Rail strikes that will bring Wales’ trains to a halt to go ahead after last ditch talks fail, RMT union say
The rail strikes are to go ahead after last ditch talks failed to resolve a dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, the RMT union said.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail (NR) and 13 train operators will strike on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Most lines in Wales will be closed on strike days. Transport for Wales are not in dispute with unions but run on tracks owned by Network Rail, who are.
On Tuesday and Thursday, a reduced service will run between Radyr and Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil, with replacement bus services between Radyr and Cardiff Central.
On Saturday, there will be limited trains between Radyr and Treherbert, Aberdare and Pontypridd, with replacement buses between Radyr and Cardiff Central.
The UK Government has refused to take part in last-ditch talks to avert the transport chaos.
Downing Street said the dispute is between the unions and the employers and it “wouldn’t be helpful” for ministers to get involved.
The TUC said ministers in Westminster were insisting on imposing cuts and planning to change the law so that employers can draft in agency workers during industrial action, which it added was reminiscent of the action recently taken by P&O.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government has the power to help end this dispute but rather than working in good faith to find a negotiated settlement, ministers are inflaming tensions and trying to pitch worker against worker.
“Instead of threatening to do a P&O on these workers and rip up their rights, ministers should be getting people around the table to help agree a fair deal.”
Ms O’Grady said nobody takes strike action lightly but maintained that rail staff have been left with “no other option”.
“Many rail staff who will be hit hardest – such as caterers and cleaners – are on low and average earnings. It’s insulting to ask them to take yet another real-terms pay cut when rail companies took £500 million in profits during the pandemic.
“If these cuts go ahead thousands of safety-critical and frontline jobs will be lost, with train services at risk too.
“We need a better vision for the future of rail than commuters packed on unsafe trains like sardines.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Strikes should always be the last resort, not the first, so it is hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is going ahead with industrial action.
“The Government committed £16 billion – or £600 per household – to keep our railways running throughout the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker lost their job.
“The railway is still on life support, with passenger numbers 25% down and anything that drives away even more of them risks killing services and jobs.
“Train travel for millions more people is now a choice, not a necessity. Strikes stop our customers choosing rail and they might never return.”
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “We are acutely aware of the cost-of-living pressures being felt by workers and families across the UK.
“Every business wants to support their staff and the railway is no exception.
“But as an industry we have to change our ways of working and improve productivity to help pay our own way – the alternatives of asking taxpayers to shoulder the burden or passengers to pay higher fares when they too are feeling the pinch simply isn’t fair.”
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