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Why Are Railway Workers Protesting in London | EXPLAINED
Harrowing Time For Train Passengers in London as Underground Workers Intensifies Protest Over Jobs, Pay Cut. Read Details Here
London/UK: Railway passengers in London had to face a harrowing time as thousands of workers walked out on strike, affecting services across the country. If reports are to be believed, one in five trains will be operated on Wednesday, on around half the network, with some areas having no trains all day. Trains are also expected to be affected tomorrow with a later start to services as employees return to duties. For the unversed, nearly 40,000 Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) workers and 14 train companies have decided to stage a fresh strike in a long-running dispute over jobs and pensions. While members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) will launch coordinated strikes on August 18 and 20, the RMT announced a strike on London Underground on August 19.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman however urged the RMT union to call off the strikes. “We are concerned about the impact this will have on the public going about their everyday lives”, BBC quoted the spokesman as saying.
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What Are The Workers Demanding?
The workers are protesting against frozen salaries, changing working conditions, and proposed job cuts. The RMT workers have alleged that their salaries have not been hiked for the past 2-3 years despite the economic turmoil. BBC reported that they are demanding a hike of at least 7% to meet the rising cost of living.
“Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train companies have not offered us anything new. In fact, Network Rail have upped the ante, threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw our planned strike action. The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions”, a leading daily Quoted RMT general secretary Mick Lynch as saying.
“RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be bullied or cajoled by anyone. The Government need to stop their interference in this dispute so the rail employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us”, he added.
On the other hand, Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I’m afraid there will be more disruption for passengers this week as the RMT seems hell-bent on continuing their political campaigning, rather than compromising and agreeing a deal for their members.
“I can only apologise for the impact this pointless strike will have on passengers, especially those travelling for holidays or attending events such as the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 semi-final (Wednesday) and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (Thursday).”
Heathrow Airport caps daily passenger numbers
Meanwhile, booming demand for summer travel after two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions have overwhelmed European airlines and airports that had laid off tens of thousands of pilots, cabin crew, check-in staff, ground crew and baggage handlers amid the depths of the pandemic. Heathrow has said it started a recruiting drive in November and expects security staffing to be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of July.
“However, there are some critical functions in the airport which are still significantly under-resourced, in particular ground handlers, who are contracted by airlines to provide check-in staff, load and unload bags and turnaround aircraft,” making it a “significant constraint” to overall capacity, Holland-Kaye said.