Rail strikes: Commuters told 'don't travel' as 24 hour walk-out starts TODAY – as union bosses warn there's more to come | The Sun

COMMUTERS have been warned NOT to travel today as a 24-hour rail walkout begins.

Only around one in five trains will run on Wednesday, with some areas having no trains all day in the action set to cripple the country.

Picket lines were being mounted outside train stations first thing as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 14 train operators went on strike.

More walkouts are expected in the coming days, with a wave of industrial action planned next month on the railways and London Underground.

And passengers were today being urged not to travel by train unless absolutely necessary, while allowing extra time for their journeys.

A warning on the Network Rail website warns: “Due to industrial action, you will experience disruption to your rail journey.

"You should plan ahead and only travel if necessary.”

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Trains are expected to be disrupted on Thursday morning with a later start to services as employees return to duties.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) has also announced a strike by its members at Avanti West Coast on Wednesday, while members of the drivers union Aslef at seven companies will strike on Saturday.

Ferry operator P&O Ferries this morning warned passengers of "major queues" and a two-hour wait to complete checks before they can board a ship.

At Birmingham New Street station, where passengers are expected to flock to the Commonwealth Games starting tomorrow, boards showed the first train to London Euston station was not due to leave until 8.50am.

It comes as disputes in the bitter row over jobs, pay, pensions and conditions worsen.

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RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said union members were more determined than ever to secure a decent pay rise, job security and good working conditions.

He said: "Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train companies have not offered us anything new.

"In fact, Network Rail have upped the ante, threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50% cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw our planned strike action."

He added: "RMT will continue to negotiate in good faith but we will not be bullied or cajoled by anyone.

"The Government need to stop their interference in this dispute so the rail employers can come to a negotiated settlement with us."

Speaking on GMB this morning Mr Lynch urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to join him "around the negotiating table" as early as this afternoon, insisting he is the "person responsible" for helping the unions secure a deal.

But Mr Shapps was quick to hit back, describing calls for him to join negotiations to resolve rail strikes as "a complete red herring".

Today, union bosses are once again trying to cause as much disruption as possible to the day-to-day lives of millions of hardworking people around the country.

He told Sky News: "It's just a game by the unions. It's a complete red herring as well, by the way, and it's simply not how strikes are resolved.

"It can only ever be the employer, in this case Network Rail, the train operating companies and the unions."

He went on: "We have to have this modernisation. It's there to be sorted out and therefore a pay rise can be had as well, but I'm afraid the unions have been incredibly militant about this."

Mr Lynch last night vowed to drag the “entire trade union movement” into a 1926-style mass walkout if they are prevented from paralysing the economy.

He also opened the door to rail strikes continuing into next summer.

Meanwhile Mr Shapps said in his three years as Transport Secretary there has not been a single day when unions have not been in dispute by threatening or taking industrial action, with around 60 separate disputes in 2022 alone.

"Today, union bosses are once again trying to cause as much disruption as possible to the day-to-day lives of millions of hardworking people around the country," he said.


"What's more, it has been cynically timed to disrupt the start of the Commonwealth Games and crucial Euro 2022 semi-finals, in a deliberate bid to impact the travel of thousands trying to attend events the whole country is looking forward to."

He said taxpayers stumped up £600 per household to ensure "not a single rail worker lost their job during the pandemic," adding those same people will be forced into losing a day's wages "through no fault of their own but because of stubborn union leaders' refusals to modernise".

Mr Shapps added: "Unfortunately, it's too late to call off today's damaging strikes but I urge the RMT, and indeed all unions, to stop holding the country to ransom with the threat of further industrial action and get off picket lines and back round the negotiating table.

"If not, we risk passengers turning their backs on the railway for good."

It came after Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss said she would impose strike restrictions on rail workers to keep Britain moving.

Lynch, whose union has rejected a Network Rail pay offer worth eight per cent without consulting members, claimed such a move would “make effective trade unionism illegal”.

He ranted: “If these proposals become law, there will be the biggest resistance mounted by the entire trade union movement, rivalling the general strike of 1926.”

He added that two-week rail staff walkouts may follow this year “if we don’t get the deal we need”.

Lynch also said he’ll seek another six-month strike mandate when the current one ends, raising the spectre of strikes into next summer.

Some 40,000 rail workers from 14 train operators will walk out today, with 80 per cent of train services set to be cancelled.

Train drivers’ union ASLEF is to strike on Saturday.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "It's now clearer than ever that the RMT has no interest in engaging in constructive discussions and is hell-bent on creating further misery for passengers across the UK.

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"This action is a cynically timed attempt to derail the start of the Commonwealth Games, one of the first major events the country has been able to look forward to since the pandemic."

Members of the RMT and TSSA will launch coordinated strikes on August 18 and 20, while the RMT announced a strike on London Underground on August 19.

Heathrow TikTok rap

HEATHROW boss John Holland Kaye blamed TikTok for adding to the chaos at the airport.

He said demand shot up after a user of the app faked an injury to get wheelchair assistance and a fast-track on to a flight.

The chief executive said: “That is absolutely the wrong thing to be doing. Please don’t do that.”

He also blamed security delays on passengers trying to take through too much make-up.

He said many did not realise some cosmetics, such as mascara, must go in the one-litre transparent bag allowed for liquids.

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