Train strikes: August bank holiday walkout ‘risks abrupt end to summer’ for Londoners

Saturday, August 12, 2023


Travellers are facing travel misery at the end of the summer holidays as members of the biggest rail workers union stage fresh strikes in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said 20,000 of its members in 14 train operators would walk out on two consecutive Saturdays, including during the August bank holiday.

Industrial action will take place on August 28 and September 2 after no improved or revised offer from the Rail Delivery Group, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said.

The reason for this is the Government has not allowed them a fresh mandate on which discussions could be held, he said.

All RMT members involved in the dispute will not book on for any shifts on the days where strike action is planned, the union said.

The 14 train operating companies affected are: 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 and GTR, including Gatwick Express.

RMT has been embroiled in the dispute for over a year, with no sign of a breakthrough.

The lastest action from the union was a one-day strike on Saturday July 29, with members picketing across the UK.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said staff were offered a 13 per cent pay rise which was blocked without a convincing explanation by the RMT executive.

With further strike action the RMT are once again targeting customers looking to enjoy various sporting events, festivals, and the end of the summer holidays, disrupting their plans and forcing more cars onto the road, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile Aslef members are currently in an overtime ban that began on August 7 and ends on Saturday. Members have refused to work for anything above and beyond their contracted hours and hundreds of trains have been cancelled every day as a result.

The six train companies affected by the overtime ban are Chiltern Railways, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, South Western Railway and Thameslink.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said that the RMT leadership’s decision to call more strikes and cynically target the travelling public over the bank holiday weekend is disappointing.

The Government has facilitated fair and reasonable pay offers.

However, union bosses are opting to prolong this dispute by blocking their members from having a vote on these offers. They continue to urge that members are given their say and disruption is brought to an end.

Strikes are also set to cause chaos at Gatwick Airport over the August bank holiday weekend as Unite members working for ground handling company Red Handling, and Wilson James, which operates Gatwick’s passenger assistance contract, walk off the job.

The two four-day strikes between August 18 and 25 will disrupt tens of thousands of passengers and hundreds of flights, the union says.

The two four-day strikes between August 18 and 25 will disrupt tens of thousands of passengers and hundreds of flights, the union says.

Adam Tyndall, programme director for transport at business group BusinessLDN, said: “The latest round of industrial action risks an abrupt end to the busy summer season for many businesses, Londoners and visitors.

These strikes will be particularly disheartening for the hospitality and retail industries as they will be hoping to get as many customers as possible in the door before the holidays come to an end.

Londoners and businesses urgently want all those involved to get around the negotiating table and reach an agreement so they can make the most of the holiday period.

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