Flintshire MP blasts rail strikes as a ‘disgrace’ and says union is “shameful” to ask for more money
A Flintshire MP has blasted this week’s rail worker walkouts and said union demands for an 11% pay increase are shameful.
The biggest rail strike in 30 years will go ahead this week after pay talks broke down the RMT union confirmed on Saturday.
The Rail, Transport and Maritime Union (RMT) said that “despite the best efforts of our negotiators no viable settlements to the disputes have been created.”
More than 40,000 staff at Network Rail and 13 train operators are expected to walk out.
Strikes will take place on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Transport for Wales (TfW) is not in dispute with the union but the majority of rail services across Wales will be suspended during industrial action.
Each strike will last 24 hours. However, train operators have warned that knock-on effects mean disruption on either side of the strike days.
Despite the claim that the RMT is angling for an 11% pay increase for its members, Mick Lynch, the union’s general secretary said any pay deal should be linked to the Retail Price Index – the rate of inflation on goods and services.
The rate was pushed up to 11.1 per cent in April but the RMT is looking for a pay deal linked to talks in December, when it was at 7.1%.
Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge he said: “At the time of the Network Rail pay deal, which should have been done in December, it was 7.1 per cent, the Retail Price Index.”
“That’s what the cost of living would have been at the time these deals should have been struck, so we’re going to negotiate to see if we can get a deal that reflects that cost of living.”
“There a number of ways in which you can put value into a package, it’s not all about straightforward pay. So we’ll talk to them constructively, but they’re making offers that are nowhere near that.”
“And for half the people in this dispute, there’s no offer at all and for many of them it’s the third year where there’s no offer and no proposal.”
More vital workers paid less
Delyn MP Rob Roberts said the ‘median’ wage for a Network Rail is above that of more vital workers such as nurses.
Posting on his Facebook page, the MP who sits in Parliament as an Independent, said: “The UK government put more than £16bn into the railway to ensure that nobody lost their jobs during the pandemic while nobody was travelling.”
“More than sixteen BILLION pounds. To look after the workers in one single sector.”
“The median salary of Network Rail staff is £44,000 a year. That’s more than teachers and nurses, to name just two of the more vital workers.”
“And now, for the RMT union to be asking for another 11% pay increase on top and withdrawing their labour if they don’t get it is shameful.”
He said: “Anyone who thinks that holding the country to ransom during massively challenging times is a good thing or in any way acceptable is seriously misguided.”
“Each day of strike costs the economy hundreds of millions of pounds. Just what we need right now, thanks a lot.”
“It’s exam time. Children and teachers need to get to schools. The price of fuel is through the roof, and this will force people who use trains to use their cars for the week and make their existing difficulties even worse.”
Rob Roberts said: “Unions have a place in the working environment to ensure that workers are kept safe and treated fairly. But this is not that. This is saying “we’re calling the shots here because we’ve got a big gang together”.
“It happened a few years ago when they almost bankrupted British Airways and it’s happening again now.”
“Bullies ganging up and the impact being felt by hard-working people who are already feeling the pinch.”
He added: “If people want to withdraw their labour, the employer should be allowed to make it permanently withdrawn and put people who want to work in those jobs into them instead. There are plenty of people in the UK who would like a £44,000 median salary.”
In a statement, the RMT said: “In the face of this massive attack on our people the RMT cannot be passive.”
“So today, having heard the reports on the discussions that have been taking place we are confirming that the strike action scheduled to take place on 21st, 23rd and 25th June will go ahead.”
“We want a transport system that operates for the benefit of the people, for the needs of society and our environment – not for private profit.”
“We call on our members to stand firm, support the action, mount the pickets and demonstrate their willingness to fight for workplace justice.”
“Every worker in Britain deserves a pay rise that reflects the cost-of-living crises. All working people should have the benefit of good negotiated terms, conditions, working practices and occupational pensions that will ensure their living standards in retirement.”
“We call on the entire labour movement and the working people to rally to the support of the RMT and our members in this struggle.”
“The RMT will support every group of workers who organise and fight for these aims and we call for joint campaigning and coordinated action to achieve a better deal for workers and a fairer society.”
“RMT remains available for discussions that will settle this dispute and ensure our transport system can operate without disruption.”
Distruption to rail services locally
TfW said: “We’re advising customers not to travel by train on 21, 23 and 25 June, with the majority of our rail services suspended as a result of industrial action resulting from the dispute between RMT and Network Rail.”
“Due to the wider disruption caused, we’re also advising customers to only travel by rail if essential for 20, 22, 24 and 26 June.”
“TfW is not in dispute with RMT, but the industrial action means we’re unable to operate rail services on Network Rail infrastructure.”
“There is also expected to be disruption on the days prior and after the industrial action, with early morning services, in particular, likely to be affected. Trains are also expected to be extremely busy throughout the entire week.”
Merseyrail services will also be suspended during the three strike days.
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