UK hit by another rail stoppage as summer of strikes rolls on

AFP , Saturday 20 Aug 2022

Railway staff in Britain on Saturday staged the latest in a series of strikes, the second in three days, as decades-high inflation hit salaries and prompted walkouts across various industries.

UK railway station
London busses are parked at Ealing Broadway as some bus routes are on strike in London, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. AP


The stoppage by tens of thousands of workers disrupted weekend leisure travel with only around one in five trains set to run and some areas having no services.

It comes during a summer of industrial action across Britain, with staff in various sectors pushing for pay rises and better working conditions.

"We cannot tolerate being bullied or hoodwinked into accepting a raw deal for our members," said Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), which is among those striking.

"The government need to stop their interference in these disputes so the employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us."

He warned that further walkouts were likely unless a compromise could be reached over pay rises and working terms and conditions.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the unions' "co-ordinated approach" showed they were "hell-bent on causing as much misery as possible".

Saturday's stoppage, set to hit football and cricket fans headed to matches as well as festival-goers, tourists and holidaymakers, will spill over into Sunday morning.

It follows a similar walkout Thursday, and a strike across London's transport system on Friday.

Official data Wednesday showed UK inflation at a 40-year-high above 10 percent, as soaring food and energy prices hurt millions.

The Bank of England has forecast inflation to top 13 percent this year, tipping the British economy into a deep and long recession.

The rail strikes have divided opinion, with some voicing frustration but others supporting the workers.

"I've got all the sympathy in the world for them," recruitment consultant Greg Ellwood, 26, told AFP this week at an unusually quiet Euston station in London.

"Everyone likes to try and divide people, but this is something I think people should stick to."

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