Friday, 26 March 2010

UK rail chaos after Easter

Freight transport on the UK’s railways will be severely disrupted after the Easter break, following the breakdown of talks between transport workers’ unions and Network Rail yesterday.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) and infrastructure operator Network Rail met at conciliation service Acas, but negotiations over plans to cut 1,500 maintenance jobs were adjourned with no agreement in sight.

The strike will begin at 6am on 6 April and run until 11.59pm on 9 April.

The RMT announced that signal workers had voted 54% vote in favour of a strike, on a turnout of 71%.

They will walk out for four hours, twice a day over the strike period, to coincide with rush hours, while the maintenance staff will stay out for the full four days.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT negotiators have worked flat out to try and reach an agreement that protects rail safety, job security and working agreements in the disputes involving signalling and maintenance staff on Britain’s railways.

“Despite hours of talks, we have received nothing concrete from Network Rail that addresses the key issues.”

Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s director of operations and customer services, said: “This proposed strike is not about safety. Britain’s railway is safer than ever. The issue of safety is a smokescreen from a union leadership stuck in the steam age.

“Our contingency plans are well advanced and aim to keep as many trains running as possible. But a national rail strike will have a severe impact on services and on Britain.”

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