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Union threatens ‘biggest rail strike in modern UK history’ | Rail industry

More than 40,000 railway employees are to be balloted in a dispute over jobs and pay {that a} union says might outcome in Britain’s largest rail strike in modern historical past.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) mentioned workers could be requested to vote on strike motion over Network Rail’s plans to chop not less than 2,500 upkeep jobs as a part of a £2bn discount in spending on the community.

Meanwhile, employees at practice operators have been topic to pay freezes and modifications to their phrases and situations.

The RMT mentioned the strike poll was the most important of members for a single dispute it has undertaken because the union was fashioned in 1990. The poll opens on 26 April and closes on 24 May, so strike motion might start in June.

The RMT’s common secretary, Mick Lynch, mentioned: “Railway workers have had to contend with pay freezes, the prospect of losing their jobs and repeated attacks on their terms and conditions.

“Removing 2,500 safety-critical jobs from Network Rail will spell disaster for the public, make accidents more likely and will increase the possibility of trains flying off the tracks.

“Train operating companies have praised our members for being key workers during the pandemic but have refused to keep staff pay in line with inflation and soaring living costs. As a result, thousands of railway workers have seen their living standards plummet and have run out of patience.

“The way for trade unions to effectively take on the cost of living crisis is to stand up for their members at work and take industrial action when employers are not moved by the force of reasoned argument.

“A national rail strike will bring the country to a standstill but our members’ livelihoods and passenger safety are our priorities.”

The poll will probably be amongst RMT members on Network Rail and the practice operators Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, Southeastern, South Western Railway, Island Line, GTR (together with Gatwick Express), TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast, and West Midlands Trains.

Network Rail’s Tim Shoveller mentioned: “Our railway has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and even as passenger numbers start to recover, we know travel habits and passenger demand have changed and the industry has to change, too.

“We cannot keep relying on government handouts, and so we must work together with train operators and our trades unions to save millions of pounds and deliver a more efficient railway.

“Our modernisation programme aims to build a sustainable future that delivers for passengers and creates better and safer jobs for our people.

“We are disappointed that the RMT has taken this decision and urge them again to work with us, not against us, as we build an affordable railway fit for the future.”

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