Rail strikes could go on for a ‘very, very long time’ warns union boss
A union leader has suggested a possible rail strike over jobs and pay could go on “for a very, very long time”.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators have voted overwhelmingly to strike in a bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions, threatening massive disruption to the network from next month, including services provided by Great Western Railway, Avanti West Coast and Cross Country which operate in Wales.
More than 40,000 RMT members in total were balloted and those at the following companies voted for strike action and action short of a strike: Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “They could go on for a very, very long time. There is no sign at the moment of that anybody is backing down on their side of the table.”
He could not say the level of disruption union action may cause but added: “We will decide that if it happens. We want to make the strike action as effective as possible from our point of view.
“Our members are prepared to take effective strike action in pursuit of the settlement of this dispute. I have got no idea how long that will take and I can’t determine from here what the outcomes and side effects of that will be.”
He said he “cannot see a way out from the strikes” which could hit the rail sector from next month, adding workers need a pay rise.
On whether a strike is inevitable, Lynch said: “I can’t see a way out from the strikes at the moment unless there is a breakthrough and the Government instructs these companies – which they are doing to change their line rather than harden their line – it is very, very likely there will be strike action and it will be very soon.”