Former RMT boss declares rail strikes won’t stop Xmas travel

Former RMT boss says rail strikes won’t stop Xmas travel

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The former RMT assistant general secretary has bashed claims that a series of December and January strikes will stop people from being able to travel home for Christmas. Steve Hedley branded the concerns “ridiculous” and added that those speaking out on the strike’s impact on working people were demonstrating “hypocrisy”. Following a flood of strikes over the summer, the RMT announced Tuesday that industrial action across the rail network would continue for an additional four weeks, including over the holiday period.

During an appearance on GB News, the former RMT assistant general secretary was asked if the impending strike action would affect individuals hoping to travel home to their families for Christmas.

Mr Hedley said: “Of course it’s not, that’s just ridiculous.”

“I think it’s a bit rich that people who don’t care about working-class people and how they get on most of the year are suddenly really concerned about them because the RMT will strike near Christmas.”

He added: “What absolute hypocrisy.”

The new wave of strikes is estimated to bring the total economic cost of rail union action to £1 billion.

A report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research shows that the industrial action is expected to generate a £691 million black hole in the economy by the end of the year. On top of this, the rail sector estimates the loss in fare revenue will have exceeded £320 million by January.

In response to the data, Mr Hedley said: “The fact is, if it is costing that much money, if it is costing £1 billion, then give them the pay rise – it will only cost a fraction of that. 

“So if the government want the solution and they want to save money, the solution is simple. They just need to give a pay rise in line with inflation.”

Read more: Rishi Sunak holds crisis Cobra meetings amid winter fears

The RMT has confirmed over 40,000 members across the rail network plan to engage in the upcoming walkout.

Strike action will occur on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 in addition to January, 3, 4, 6 and 7.

The decision has marked an escalation in the industrial action from 24-hour strikes to 48-hour walkouts after union chiefs and industry bosses failed to reach a settlement.

On top of the strike days, there will be a ban on overtime across the rail network between December 18 and January 2, meaning the union action will last over four weeks.

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A statement from the RMT union read: “Despite every effort made by our negotiators, it is clear that the government is directly interfering with our attempts to reach a settlement. 

“The union suspended previous strike action in good faith to allow for intensive negotiations to resolve the dispute, yet Network Rail have failed to make an improved offer on jobs, pay and conditions for our members during the last two weeks of talks.”

The union’s general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.”

He added: “Our message to the public is we are sorry to inconvenience you, but we urge you to direct your anger and frustration at the government and railway employers during this latest phase of action.”

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