“No 6 o’clock start for me!”: Commuters’ joy as rail strikes force millions to WFH
The first day back in the office was derailed today when a series of strikes began – with some commuters celebrating having dodged and having to get up early for work.
Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and ASLEF unions are currently taking industrial action against wages and working conditions. A similar action by Network Rail also caused huge subway delays.
Meanwhile, over 100 road transport officers and control room operators working for National Highways across England are also going on a 48-hour strike on Tuesday.
The disruption to travel – hurting the economy – was welcomed by commuters, who welcomed the opportunity to stay in bed and work from home.
London Bridge Station is closed to the public as members of the RMT union take part in strikes
Traffic in the Blackwall Tunnel this morning as those not working from home make their way
Mick Lynch on picket line at Euston Station this morning as the strikes hit the country today
There have been big celebrations from commuters who are now allowed to work from home by bosses
One cheered: “So glad the train is on strike and I’m coming to WFH tomorrow, no way am I ready for my 6am alarm clock.”
Another celebrated: “WFH and it’s a strike day so technically it’s a do nothing day”.
It comes a day after it was warned that a generation of passengers will be forever put off the railways by the ongoing train strikes.
Millions of people’s travels will be hit this week by militant rail unions and their plan to cause the worst disruption in three decades.
PCS Union Workington pickets this morning as they go on strike for more pay
Mr Lynch accused ministers of blocking a possible agreement between employers and his union, which rejected an offer of a 9 per cent pay rise over two years
Mick Lynch has insisted he doesn’t want any disruption to the railways ahead of two 48-hour strikes by his members which will mean just one in five trains running.
The union boss claims there is no end to the strikes
A union leader has insisted the strikes continue, although Rishi Sunak plans to pass new anti-strike laws this year.
Dave Penman, secretary general of the FDA, which represents senior officials, also predicted there would soon be coordinated industrial action across the public sector.
Mr Penman told Times Radio: “The reality is these disputes are about pay.
“And if you don’t care, unless the government tries to resolve that, they may be able to have some minor caveats on the impact of some of these strikes, but the strikes will continue.”
It is recommended to only travel if absolutely necessary, allow extra time and check when the first and last trains leave.
Service disruptions may also occur on Sunday as the striking workers return to their jobs.
On RMT strike days, about half of the network is shut down and only about 20% of normal services are running.
Trains that operate start later and finish much earlier than usual – with trains usually running between 7:30am and 6:30pm on the day of the strike.
Thursday’s train drivers’ strike will affect 15 operators and result in even fewer services running, with some companies running on “very significantly reduced” timetables.
Daniel Mann, Director of Industry Operations at Rail Delivery Group, said: “Nobody wants these strikes to continue and we can only apologize to passengers and the many businesses who will be impacted by this unnecessary and damaging disruption.
“We advise passengers to only travel during this time if absolutely necessary, to allow extra time and to check when their first and last train departs. Passengers with tickets for January 3-7 can use their ticket the day before the ticket date or up to and including Tuesday January 10.
January strikes fully featured on calendar pages by various unions this month
A generation of passengers will be kept off the railways forever by the ongoing train strike, unions have been warned as they prepare for another five-day strike
Who is on strike today?
Avanti West Coast
Govia Thameslink (plus Gatwick Express)
West Midlands Trains (plus London Northwestern Railway)
Great Western Railway
Network Rail only has enough to run 20 percent of normal capacity
“This dispute can only be resolved by agreeing on the long-overdue reforms to the labor rules needed to put the industry on a sustainable footing, rather than unions condemning their members to forfeit more pay in the new year. “
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said there was “an unprecedented level of ministerial interference” preventing the dispute from being resolved.
He said: “The government is blocking the union’s attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the railway companies.
“We have worked with the rail industry to achieve successful negotiated solutions since privatization in 1993 and we have reached agreements across the network in 2021 and 2022 in which the Department of Transport is not a party.
“Yet there is an unprecedented level of ministerial interference in this dispute, preventing the railway companies from negotiating a package of measures with us to enable us to settle this dispute.
“We will continue our industrial action campaign while we work towards a negotiated settlement.”
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan told the PA news agency the union was “in it for the long haul”, adding: “We don’t want to go on strike but the companies have pushed us into this place.
“They haven’t offered our members a dime and these are people who haven’t had a raise since April 2019.
“That means they expect drivers at these companies to take a real pay cut – working just as hard for significantly less – if inflation is above 14%.
“The rail companies say their hands are tied by the government. While the government, which doesn’t employ us, says it’s up to the companies to negotiate with us.
“We’re always happy to negotiate – we never refuse to sit down and talk, but these companies haven’t offered us anything and that’s unacceptable.”
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: “Passengers are rightly fed up with rail strikes and want the disruption to end.
“The government has shown it is sensible and stands ready to facilitate a solution to rail disputes. It is time for unions to come to the table and play their part too.
“Inflation-adjusted wage increases for all public sector workers would cost everyone more in the long run – increasing debt, fueling inflation and costing every household an extra £1,000.
“The unions should step back from this strike action so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute.”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11594113/No-6am-start-Commuters-joy-rail-strikes-force-millions-WFH.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 “No 6 o’clock start for me!”: Commuters’ joy as rail strikes force millions to WFH