The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said Thursday’s rail strike will go ahead after accusing Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, of “wrecking” negotiations.
Rail services are being severely disrupted this week by around 40,000 members of the RMT on Network Rail and 13 train operators conducting walkouts in a row over jobs, pay and conditions. RMT members on London Underground also went on strike on Tuesday.
Commenting on the latest talks, Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, said: “Grant Shapps has wrecked these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw their letter threatening redundancy for 2,900 of our members.
“Until the government unshackle Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.”
Confirming Thursday’s walkout will go ahead as planned, Mr Lynch added: “We will continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job security and a pay rise for our members that deals with the escalating cost of living crisis.”
Just 60 per cent of trains are running on Wednesday, and some operators will wind down services slightly earlier than normal ahead of the next round of action.
The third and final strike of the week is planned for Saturday.
However in a breakthrough, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) members working for Merseyrail have accepted a pay offer which the union’s leaders say is worth 7.1 per cent.
General secretary Manuel Cortes described it as “a sensible outcome to a reasonable offer”.
A survey of more than 2,300 people by Savanta ComRes showed that more than half (58 per cent) said the industrial action is justified.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said reforms of the railways was “desperately needed”.
The spokesperson said: “Unions have shut down big parts of the rail network, hitting local businesses and unfairly cutting people off from hospitals, schools and work.
“However, early data shows that unlike in the past, many people now have the opportunity to work from home, so we haven’t even a rush to the roads, as traffic has instead gone online, which means the unions aren’t having the overall impact they might have hoped.”