Historic rail strike could wreak havoc in UK

The UK is preparing for a massive three-day rail strike this week, which could be the worst in 30 years and could spread to many other sectors, due to a tug of war between unions and companies railways on wages and jobs.

The rail union RMT, which is calling in particular for wage increases in line with galloping inflation, announced at the beginning of June that more than 50,000 railway employees were going to strike “during the biggest sectoral conflict since 1989” and the major privatizations of the sector.

A big day of mobilization

The biggest day of mobilization is scheduled for Tuesday and will affect train lines across the country as well as the London Underground. The movement will resume Thursday then Saturday, but transport will be disrupted from Monday until Sunday.

Last-minute negotiations between the companies and RMT broke down on Monday, the union said in a statement at the end of the day, deeming the proposals made by the employers “unacceptable”.

A call for negotiations

The strike movement “will bring suffering and chaos to millions of users”, lamented the Minister of Transport Grant Shapps Monday evening before Parliament.

The government had called on the parties to negotiate until the last minute, but both unions and the Labor opposition criticized the minister for not having sat down at the negotiating table himself.

“During such discussions, it is always up to the employer and the unions to meet and negotiate” and the government “is not the employer”, reacted Shapps.

A movement that could spread

The movement threatens to spread not only to other modes of transport, such as buses, and beyond this week alone, with other transport unions having called on their members to also decide on a strike.

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It could even spread to other sectors such as education, health, the post office, or lawyers: the criminal bar association announced on Monday that its members had voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike as soon as next week on funding legal aid.

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