Time for unions, Network Rail and ministers to show leadership and avoid rail strike - The Yorkshire Post says

The fact that the UK stands on the brink of the largest national rail strike since the industry was privatised in the 1990s has shown a failure of leadership across all sections of the industry.

More than 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 15 train operators have been voting on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action in a row over jobs, pay and conditions, with the ballot due to close on Tuesday.

The threat of strike action could not come at a worse time for Britain’s rail industry. Passenger numbers are at a 150 year low after the pandemic altered working patterns and consumer behaviour. If the ballot is successful strikes could begin as early as next weekend when the nation celebrates the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

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Unions have called the ballot in response to what it said was proposed cuts to staffing and failure to offer staff a meaningful pay increase. Meanwhile the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps worsened the situation further by proposing legislation that would make taking strike action more difficult.

Massive rail strikes are planned by unions.Massive rail strikes are planned by unions.
Massive rail strikes are planned by unions.

What both parties seem to have forgotten is passengers.

If Network Rail signallers do decide to go on strike the impact upon will be significant. It is possible that trains will only run for part of the day, such as from 7am to 7pm, and only on main lines.

In order to avoid so many people’s lives being disrupted, leadership at the top of Government and the trade union movement needs to step up a gear.

Ministers need to work with the unions to ensure members are listened to. Meanwhile union leaders, in receipt of highly generous pay packets, must also seek a compromise.

A strike of this magnitude will not create any winners. It must be avoided.