The layoffs by RMT, Britain’s largest trade union representing transport workers, began after final negotiations with employers failed on Monday night.
RMT is calling for a wage increase of at least 7 percent for public transit workers, arguing that even that will only partially offset the inflation expected this year.
According to the latest figures from the British Statistics Office, inflation rose by 9 per cent in April, at a rate not seen since the twelve-month comparison, after rising by 7 per cent in March. The Bank of England currently expects annual inflation to accelerate to more than 9 per cent over the next few months, peaking at just over 11 per cent in October.
RMT announced a strike on the evening of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with employees of British railway infrastructure maintenance company Network Rail and thirteen railway companies in England, Wales and Scotland.
Network Rail estimates on Monday that no more than sixty percent of scheduled flights will operate on intermediate days other than the strike.
The strike series affects the regular exam period for 16-year-olds in high school in England, as well as one of the world’s most popular music events, which takes place every summer near the small town of Glastonbury in southwest England. The Glastonbury Festival has been canceled over the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is now taking place for the first time since the outbreak began. An estimated 200,000 visitors are expected to attend the event, which runs from Wednesday to Sunday.
London Underground employees will also go on strike on Tuesday. More recently, in 1989, there was an example of a simultaneous National Rail and Underground strike in London in Britain.
London Underground’s 400-kilometre network of 12 main and countless branch lines was used by an average of four million people a day, roughly one and a half billion a year, before the coronavirus pandemic, so the number still remains. The striking passengers are about 20. percent below the pre-pandemic average.
London’s public transport company, Transport for London (TfL), on Monday drew passengers’ attention to the fact that after Tuesday’s strike, traffic could only recover on Wednesday morning, and even then delays are expected.
Cover photo: The entrance to Westminster Underground station is closed while all London Underground lines are suspended due to a strike by RMT members. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images