Three rail and bus strikes in London and the East this week
- Credit: Aaron Chown/PA
Rail and bus passengers in the East of England and London are set for three more days of travel disruption if transport sector workers stage another walkout this week.
Between Thursday, August 18 and Saturday, August 20, rail industry and London Buses staff are set to strike, bringing many of the region's trains and buses to a halt.
The industrial action follows a one-day train driver strike by the Aslef trade union on Saturday, August 13. This week's RMT strike is an extension of a dispute which led to strikes between June 21 and June 25, 2022.
When? Thursday, August 18 and Saturday, August 20
What? According to the RMT trade union, 40,000 of its members are expected to strike at Network Rail and 14 railway firms.
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: "The rail industry and the government need to understand that this dispute will not simply vanish.
"They need to get serious about providing an offer on pay which helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work.
"Recent proposals from Network Rail fell well short on pay and on safety around maintenance work.
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“And the train operating companies have not even made us a pay offer in recent negotiations."
Rail bosses have hit back at the decision to stage a strike.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail's chief executive, said: "It saddens me that we are again having to ask passengers to stay away from the railway for two days this week due to unnecessary strike action, when we should be helping them enjoy their summers.
"We have made a good and fair offer but, with the exception of our TSSA management grades who accepted the deal, our unions are refusing to let our employees have a say, and sadly that means more disruption on the rail network."
Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: "The railway is too important to this country to allow it to decline, but with passenger revenue still 20 per cent below 2019 levels, securing a bright future means we have change and move with the times.
"Only then can fund the pay rise we want to give our people, while delivering the more reliable Sunday services and improved punctuality our passengers deserve."
In the East of England and London, strikes due to take place at:
- Network Rail
- Avanti West Coast
- Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands Railway
- Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink
- Greater Anglia (including Stansted Express)
- Great Western Railway
- South Western Railway
- West Midlands Trains (including London Northwestern Railway)
Elsewhere in the country, Northern and TransPennine Express staff are also involved in the dispute.
Due to a potential lack of signalling and track staff at Network Rail, the strike is likely to impact a large portion of the UK network.
According to the Rail Delivery Group, passengers who use other operators' trains - including Hull Trains and Heathrow Express - should expect disruption even if staff are not striking.
Transport for London has warned of disruption to Elizabeth line and some London Underground services due to the Network Rail walkout. The Bakerloo line will be suspended between Queen's Park and Harrow and Wealdstone, through Wembley Central. Passengers on District line branches to Richmond and Wimbledon may also face disruption.
When? Friday, August 19
What? London Underground and London Overground staff who are members of the RMT and Unite trade unions are expected to take part in a strike.
An RMT spokesperson said staff are unhappy about being excluded from negotiations between the government and Transport for London (TfL) around a new funding model for the capital's travel system.
The RMT has three demands: there will be no reduction in jobs; there will be no detrimental changes to pensions; there will be no changes to working conditions imposed.
According to Unite the union, the government has demanded TfL reduces the value of its staff's pensions.
They added that most TfL staff have been offered a three per cent pay rise for 2022 - a real-terms pay cut amid inflation rates which could peak at more than 13pc in October this year.
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: "Our members worked through the pandemic, putting themselves and their families at risk to keep London running.
"Now they are being told they must pay for Covid-19 with cuts to their pay and pensions and threats to their jobs.
"These attacks to their livelihoods must be taken off the table and a proper pay rise put forward or the strikes will escalate."
Andy Byford, TfL's chief operating officer, urged RMT and Unite to call off the strike and engage in negotiations with him and other transport leaders in the capital.
He said: "We're urging people to avoid travelling on the Tube and only travel if essential on the rest of the network on August 19, and to ensure they check before they travel from August 18-21.
"If customers are travelling they should plan ahead and expect disruption across the network."
According to TfL, the "majority" of its London Underground services will be disrupted due to strike action on Friday, August 19.
London Overground staff are also expected to strike.
Night Tube and Night Overground trains will be unable to run in the event of a walkout.
When? Friday, August 19 and Saturday, August 20
What? More than 1,100 workers at London United - which runs several London Buses routes throughout the capital - are protesting against a 3.6 per cent pay increase for 2022 and a 4.2pc increase in 2023, a Unite spokesperson said.
Their scheduled strike on Friday and Saturday includes demands for higher pay rises in the face of inflation which hit 9.4pc in June 2022.
Sharon Graham, of Unite the union, said: "The workers’ parent company RATP is fabulously wealthy and it can fully afford to pay our members a decent wage increase.
"Unite’s members play a crucial role in keeping London moving and they are not going to accept seeing their pay constantly eroded.
"Unite does what it says on the trade union tin and always defends the jobs, pay and conditions of its members.
"Our members at London United will receive the union’s complete support until this dispute is resolved and a fair pay offer secured."
A spokesperson for RATP, which owns London United, said: "The company is committed to resolving the dispute as quickly as possible and is seeking further talks with our driver representatives."
TfL said passengers in north-west and west London, Hertfordshire and Surrey are likely to be the most impacted by the buses strike.
They added no night buses will run on affected routes on Friday or Saturday night (August 19 and August 20).