Rail chaos: Simon Calder on strikes and airport disruption
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Simon Calder reacted to this week’s announced railway strike and said an RMT strike on top of the disruption now taking place at the airports is “the last thing that travelling public needs”. He conceded that “public service sector workers should be getting a decent reward for their work” but argued “they’ve pushed the nuclear button first” rather than “talking and trying to get people where they need to be”.
Mr Calder told GB News: “They’ve kind of pushed the nuclear button first.
“Rather than talking and trying to get people where they need to be on top of all the disruption of course we’re seeing at the airports right now.
“This is the last thing that travelling public needs!”
He added: “Your question about people supporting the strike.
“I think all of us would say yeah.
“Public service sector workers should be getting a decent reward for the work they’ve put in.
Referring to the strike expected to take place on Tuesday 21, Thursday 23, and Saturday 25 June, he said: “From tomorrow, there is going to be a kid of 20 percent service on 50 percent of the network.
“So if you’re lucky enough to live on one of the main lines, particularly in and out of London, and you’re travelling between 6:30 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening then, actually unlike the strikes we saw in the 1980s, you are going to be able to get where you need to be
“That applies to the east coast mainline, the west coast mainline, the line from Bristol and Cardiff into London.
“Trains from places like Brighton from Southampton will be running but at a far lower level”.
The strikes, the biggest in decades, will take place this week in a dispute over pay and redundancies.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said thousands of jobs were being cut across the rail networks and added: “It has to be restated that the source of these disputes is the decision by the Tory government to cut £4bn of funding from our transport systems – £2bn from National Rail and £2bn from Transport for London”.
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Speaking to Sky News, Chief Secretary of the Treasury Simon Clarke said the Government will continue to support the negotiation between rail companies and unions but insisted the government will not have a direct role in the talks.
He explained: “The government doesn’t sit as part of those talks for a very good reason.
We don’t intervene in the specific process between an employer and the unions representing employees, but we are there to provide the support and the enabling framework for those talks to succeed. Ultimately, we don’t control all the levers that need to be held here”.
In light of the strike announced for this week, he also stressed the need “to be sensible around pay awards” amid the current cost of living crisis and inflation rise.
“If we give awards above inflation in this landscape, then we are in a really difficult place in terms of bringing down inflation, which in turn obviously is driving the cost of living”, he explained.
“In the current situation with inflation, which is a real issue, we do have to be very, very sensitive.
“If we start having pay awards that take us close to double digits, then we are going to see this problem prolong. That is just the economic reality of where we find ourselves at the moment”.
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