Train strikes start summer of travel misery – with Grant Shapps ‘doing nothing’
Flights cancelled, trains ground to a halt, petrol prices soar again… and STILL Transport Minister Shapps refuses to do anything as a last-ditch effort to stave off a three-day nationwide action by train crews fails
(Image: Ben Cawthra/LNP)
Millions of Brits are facing travel chaos as the biggest rail strike in over 30 years is set to take place tomorrow.
And thousands more flights are canceled as fuel prices continue to rise.
But Grant Shapps today rejected belated talks to stop the strikes. Labor said the Transport Secretary “did not lift a finger to resolve this dispute”.
Rail strikes could spark a summer of discontent that will bring misery to millions as thousands more flights are canceled and fuel prices continue to soar.
A last-ditch attempt to avert the three-day national action by train crews fell through after talks between RMT bosses and train companies collapsed.
Insiders said the union is still in talks with Network Rail tonight in hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement – although tomorrow’s strike is likely to still happen.
But it turned out Transport Secretary Grant Shapps didn’t even attend the talks, as Labor accused him of standing by while the network was thrown into chaos.
He has not met for talks with the RMT since March and has already been criticized for failing to deal with the chaos at airports caused by a crippling shortage of ground staff.
Shadow Transport Secretary Lou Haigh said: “On the eve of the biggest industrial dispute in a generation, this part-time Transport Secretary has not lifted a finger to resolve this dispute.
“With the country at a standstill it is utterly absurd that Grant Shapps should simply refuse to do his job.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch warned the fight could go on for months. He aimed his fire at No 10 and said: “The dead hand of this Tory government is everywhere.
“As long as they don’t allow employers to negotiate freely, I can’t see that we’re going to find a solution to the problems that lie ahead.”
Britain is heading for the biggest wave of mass strikes since the general strike of the 1920s, as workers in 13 industries battle wage and working conditions disputes.
Up to 1.5 million workers are reportedly being elected to strike action at levels not seen since the winter of discontent in the 1970s.
These include doctors, nurses, civil servants, local government workers, lawyers, postal workers, BT engineers and traffic cops. Half of the British rail routes will be closed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
This means millions of people will struggle to get to work and could be hit by school students taking exams and revelers heading to the Glastonbury music festival in Somerset. London Underground workers will also go on strike tomorrow.
With spillover, the disruption is likely to continue on Wednesday, Friday and through Sunday.
The RMT insisted that the rail operators made an offer that was unacceptable. Network Rail is said to have held on to its 3% pay rise offer for over a year.
To add to the misery, budget airline easyJet today confirmed it would be canceling thousands more flights over the summer to try to stave off last-minute cancellations. And Heathrow asked companies to cut 10% of flights.
Drivers trying to mitigate the train strikes have to pay an average of 188.70p for a liter of petrol and 196.06p for diesel.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak came under fire for failing to reduce VAT on fuel.
Mr Shapps said of the rail strikes: “I don’t think the public is being duped. The families unable to visit their relatives, music fans hoping to go to Glastonbury, the students unable to come to their exams, businesses just beginning to recover from Covid and people doing their medical will miss treatment.
“You know that this week’s rail strikes are the full responsibility of the unions.”
Mr Shapps has been slammed over plans to allow agency staff to cover for striking railway workers, which was banned by Edward Heath’s Tory government in 1973. But within a few days, a bill will be presented that will allow the use of temporary workers.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “When P&O broke the law, this government slapped them on the hand. When unions defend wages and jobs, they change the law.”
The Office for National Statistics is expected to announce tomorrow that inflation rose to a new 40-year high of more than 9% in May, while average wages rose 4.2% between February and April.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/train-strikes-kick-summer-travel-27286111 Train strikes start summer of travel misery - with Grant Shapps 'doing nothing'