Today’s big question

Rail strikes: which workers will be next to walk out?

Strikes could spread to other public sector staff, says union chief

A trade union leader has warned of more walkouts this summer as rail workers prepare to hold a three-day strike that will bring Britain’s train networks to a grinding halt.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), has said that industrial action could spread to other services, with unions representing teachers and NHS workers also threatening industrial action over pay.

Speaking ahead of the rail strikes, Lynch told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme on Sky News that more unions could vote for strike action “because people can’t take it anymore” as inflation rockets to its highest levels in four decades.

He said: “We have got people doing full-time jobs who are having to take state benefits and use food banks. That is a national disgrace.”

Lynch confirmed to the programme that his union would press ahead with walkouts in a dispute over pay, conditions and job losses, insisting that his union “want a settlement to this dispute, but we are facing a crisis for our members”.

The union “appears to be asking for pay rises of 7%”, said Sky News political correspondent Rob Powell, “while the offer on the table” from Network Rail “seems to be in the region of 2-3%”.

Further public sector strikes loom

As a crisis on Britain’s rail networks unfolds, teachers and doctors are also “threatening to walk out alongside rail workers” if the government “fails to meet their demands for a pay rise”, said The Times.

The list of public sector workers threatening strike action is lengthening. The paper said that “nurses, civil servants, local government staff, barristers, postal workers, BT engineers and traffic wardens” could all take strike action if they are not offered a pay increase, with teachers “set to begin strike proceedings if they do not receive a significantly improved pay offer” by Wednesday this week. 

The nursing union is also likely to “consult its members on what action to take” if they are not offered a pay rise of 5% above inflation this week, while criminal law barristers are set to announce the outcome of a strike ballot this afternoon.

Pay rises ruled out 

But public sector pay rises have been “effectively ruled out” by Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury. This morning he told the country that it must show “collective discipline” and avoid asking for “inflation-busting pay offers in any part of the public sector”, said The Times

Clarke added that it was “extremely unlikely” that public sector workers asking for pay rises in line or above inflation would see their demand “approved”.

This week’s rail strikes, which will go ahead on 21 June and also take place on 23 and 25 June, have been branded “the biggest in modern history” and will see a “whopping 40,000 union members hanging up their uniforms” over the dispute, said The Sun

Any hopes that a strike could be avoided were dashed on Saturday night as “last-ditch” talks between Network Rail, train operators and London Underground “derailed”, giving the “green light” for the strikes to go ahead, said the paper.

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