Big majority in Wales feel railway strike is justified, poll reveals
A hefty majority of 67% of people in Wales feel that the rail strike is justified, according to a new poll.
The poll by Savanta Comres suggested that the strike had majority support across all the nations of the UK, with slightly fewer – 56% in Scotland and 63% in England – in support when ‘don’t knows’ were removed.
Eastern England was the only nation or region without majority support for the strike, with 50% for and against.
Across the UK, the survey of over 2,300 people by Savanta ComRes showed that 58% said the industrial action was justified.
Younger adults aged 18-34 (72%) and Labour voters (79%) were more likely to see the strikes as justified compared to their older, aged 55 and above, (44%) and Conservative-voting (38%) counterparts.
Three out of five of those polled said they are generally supportive of the principle of industrial action, while just 35% were generally opposed.
Around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators are involved in the industrial action.
The RMT will meet with NR and the train companies today in another attempt to break the deadlock.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the turnout at picket lines on Tuesday was “fantastic” and had exceeded expectations in the union’s campaign for job security, defending conditions and a decent pay rise.
He said: “Our members will continue the campaign and have shown outstanding unity in the pursuit of a settlement to this dispute.
“RMT members are leading the way for all workers in this country who are sick and tired of having their pay and conditions slashed by a mixture of big business profits and Government policy.
“Now is the time to stand up and fight for every single railway worker in this dispute that we will win.”
Services started later than normal today as trains were delayed leaving depots due to Network Rail (NR) signallers and control room staff who would usually have worked overnight shifts taking part in Tuesday’s strike.
Just 60% of trains will run across the day as a whole, and some operators will wind down services slightly earlier than normal tonight ahead of Thursday’s walkouts.
The third strike of the week is planned for Saturday.
Disruption caused by Tuesday’s rail strikes will mean that “today is going to be quite a messy day”, for travellers, the independent watchdog for transport users has said.
Anthony Smith, the chief executive of Transport Focus, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Today is going to be quite a messy day still.
“Virtually all of the train companies have special timetables in place, services are starting up late and trains and staff are not in the right place.
“So please do not assume that this is a normal day.
“If you are going to travel by train check before you leave the house, check on the way to the station and, for goodness sake, bring a bottle of water with you.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “These are desperately needed reforms that modernise the railway and put it on a sustainable footing for passengers and taxpayers.
“Unions have shut down big parts of the rail network, hitting local businesses and unfairly cutting people off from hospitals, schools and work.
“However, early data shows that unlike in the past, many people now have the opportunity to work from home, so we haven’t even a rush to the roads, as traffic has instead gone online, which means the unions aren’t having the overall impact they might have hoped.”
The union has been asked by Network Rail to attend formal consultation talks next month on introducing “modern working practices”.
Network Rail official Tim Shoveller said the changes will mean “dumping outdated working practices and introducing new technology”.
He added: “We expect this will reduce roles by around 1,800, the vast majority of which will be lost through voluntary severance and natural wastage.”
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab meanwhile said the rising inflation figures showed the need for pay restraint in the public sector and on the railways.
He told Sky News there was a risk of a “vicious cycle” of rising wages pushing inflation even higher if union demands were met, saying the Government was taking a “firm line”.
“We are facing a global struggle against inflation, if you look at the UK figures they are broadly comparable to the US or, in Europe, the Dutch and the Belgians, and it’s going to be difficult.
“We really do understand the pressure that those on low incomes are facing at the moment, they are struggling to make ends meet.”
Setting out why public sector pay could not keep pace with inflation, he added: “If we don’t have those restraints, inflation will go higher for longer. And that will only undermine the pay packages of workers, particularly the most vulnerable workers, for a longer period of time.
“We’re taking the action, we’re taking a firm line with, for example, the RMT union, precisely because we want to protect this erosion of pay packets by inflation.”
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