Should rail strikes be banned as unions plot to take action in run-up to Christmas? POLL

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Britons will face disrupted rail travel at Christmas and New Year after the RMT union announced more strike dates. Some 40,000 staff are set to take part in four 48-hour strikes to bring the nation to a halt over the festive period. But should such action be banned? Vote in our poll.

Rail services are expected to be delayed for the best part of a month – from December 13 to January 8. This is as a result of the strike action on December 13, 14, 16 and 17. as well as January 3, 4, 6 and 7 in addition to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union imposing a ban on overtime from December 18 to January 2.

The inclusion of signalling staff taking action is likely to mean only a small number of services will run on the main train lines, while smaller branches of the network will have no trains at all. Previous strikes have reduced trains to 20 percent of the scheduled service between 7am and 7pm, with disruption continuing to the following morning.

RMT 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: “We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of Government is presiding over these talks.”

READ MORE: ‘Grinch’ Mick Lynch staggeringly claims he saved Christmas

The industrial action is the latest in a long-running row over pay and working practices which began in the summer.

The union suspended strikes planned for the start of November, in favour of two weeks of “intensive negotiations”. However, the RMT suggested that Network Rail failed to make an improved offer.

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said: “We made real progress over the last fortnight of talks, and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.”

They also called for the union to “stay at the negotiating table” for the benefit of passengers and trade over the festive season, warning of huge damage to the hospitality and retail sectors.

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Network Rail’s chief negotiator Tim Shoveller warned that there was a “precarious financial hole” in the industry, which striking only made bigger. 

He said: “Only through reform, that will not result in anyone losing their job, can savings be made that can then be converted into an improved offer. And while progress has been made over these last two weeks, we still have yet to find that breakthrough.”

He continued: “We will not give up and hope that the RMT will return to the table next week with a more realistic appreciation of the situation.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “Strike action risks putting the very future of the entire industry in jeopardy. The rail industry is facing serious financial challenges and is in desperate need of vital reforms to address them.

“We once again urge union leaders to work with employers and come to an agreement which is fair for passengers, taxpayers and workers alike.”

So what do YOU think? Should rail strikes be banned? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.



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