Rail union TSSA has announced it will ballot thousands of Network Rail staff for strikes that could start around the time of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July.
Tens of thousands of rail and Tube workers are also due to walk out later this month in what has been described as the “biggest outbreak of industrial action in the UK since 1989”. The Rail, Maritime and Transport union announced it would organise a separate strike on the railways and London underground in June.
Union bosses are threatening to “shut down the system”, with major disruption expected across rail services and the London Underground, affecting events including Glastonbury Festival and the British Athletics Championships.
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We could be seeing a summer of discontent across our railways if Network Rail don’t see sense and come to the table to face the concerns of their staff.
“Fat cat bosses have so far refused these completely reasonable requests, leaving us with no option other than to ballot for industrial action, something which is always a last resort.”
When are the strikes happening?
The walk-out is set to kick off on Tuesday, June 21, with as many as 50,000 railway workers expected to strike and services across Network Rail and the London Underground due to be affected.
As many as 40,000 workers on railway services will then strike again on Thursday, June 23, and Saturday, June 25, according to the RMT union.
However, union bosses said the action was due to affect rail services “for the entire week where the three days of action have been called”. This is because trains may not be at the right stations after the walk-outs take place.
The TSSA union is balloting staff later this month for strike action that could start on Monday, July 25.
Which rail operators will be affected?
Only a fifth of mainline rail services are expected to be running over the three-day strike period in June. The rail services disrupted are:
Cross Country Trains
- East Midlands Railway
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern
- South Western Railway
- Great Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- Avanti West Coast
- West Midlands Trains
TSSA’s possible action with Network Rail would have a broader impact on services. It has members in engineering, maintenance, supervisory, control and management roles.
What are workers striking over?
Rail workers have voted to strike after a row with Network Rail over pay freezes and proposed job cuts. RMT claims that as many as 2,500 jobs are at risk and that workers have been subject to years of pay freezes.
TSSA is demanding no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no changes to terms and conditions unless they are agreed with staff, and pay increases that keep up with inflation.
RMT General Secretary Mike Lynch said of the action: “We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze.”
National Rail has responded by saying the union “must recognise we are a public body and any pay increase has to be affordable for taxpayers”.
Chief executive Andrew Haines said: “We cannot expect to take more than our fair share of public funds, and so we must modernise our industry to put it on a sound financial footing for the future. Failure to modernise will only lead to industry decline and more job losses in the long run.”