Rail bosses and unions urged to 'sit around a table' and resolve strike issues

The high street and hospitality businesses have urged striking staff and rail companies to "sit around a table” and reach a compromise to end the strike action which could topple business profits this week.

Talks are set to resume today between unions and rail bosses as they try and resolve the issues and avoid a summer of disruption

The industrial action is expected to have a “big impact on customer footfall” across the country’s high streets, with many routes not running any trains at all on strike days.

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Journeys are expected to be disrupted again today after thousands of services were called off across the country yesterday.

A person at a near-empty Euston station in London,A person at a near-empty Euston station in London,
A person at a near-empty Euston station in London,

More than 40,000 members of the RMT union will walk out again tomorrow and on Saturday, meaning the disruption will continue to have a knock-on effect

to timetables throughout the week.

Talks between the RMT, Network Rail and train companies will resume today in search of a compromise over pay, working conditions and job losses.

The head of a national business body thinks that the situation is putting further strain on small businesses who “are already in the middle of a cost of doing business crisis”.

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Federation of Small Businesses National Chairman Martin McTague said: “Small businesses and the self-employed will be bracing themselves for three days of planned industrial action.

“Not only will the strike have a big impact on customer footfall, with people deterred from travelling on disrupted train routes, it will also make life incredibly stressful for employees and business owners trying to get to and from work, particularly with the current emphasis on returning to the office.

“Small businesses are already in the middle of a cost of doing business crisis, coming up against supply chain disruption, labour shortages, surging operating costs and consumers cutting back. A fully functioning transport network is vital to their survival.

“We urge all parties to sort out the issues behind the strike.”

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There were similar sentiments from London pub boss, Clive Watson, founder of the City Pub Group, who predicted “trade to be 20 per cent to 25 per cent down this week”.

“It’s difficult to get people to these pubs and their trade is so far down you wonder if it is barely worth opening them up,” he said.

“We just want all the parties to sit around a table and find any resolution.”

Just a fifth of trains ran yesterday and half of all lines were closed including no services running north of Edinburgh or Glasgow.

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Today it is thought that only 60 per cent of trains will run.

This is mainly due to a delay to the start of services as signallers and control room staff are not doing overnight shifts.

Meanwhile, an internal Labour row has erupted over the strikes after a number of frontbenchers and PPS were pictured on picket lines, including Leeds MP Alex Sobel.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer is considering possible disciplinary action after he reportedly ordered frontbenchers not to join picket lines outside stations, as the country faces the biggest rail strike in a generation.

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The Conservatives have sought to use the row to claim Labour is on the side of the striking workers, who have caused chaos for millions of commuters, and the opposition leader will be reluctant to give the Government any more ammunition for that attack.