Summer Rail Strikes Planned

Tuesday 7th July 2015

BBC news has reported that rail workers working for several rail companies have voted to strike over the summer months. If the strikes go ahead, this is likely to result in widespread disruption for commuters up and down the country.

Northern Rail staff have voted to strike as a result of an ongoing dispute with the RMT Union over a number of issues, including the creation of zero-hours contracts via a contract with a security company, cuts to booking offices, the removal of permanent posts and attacks on the role and responsibilities of train guards. The RMT also said that Northern Rail has not given any commitment that there would not be any compulsory redundancies beyond the end of its current franchise in February 2016.

Southern Rail engineers have announced a five-day strike to commence on 12 July. The RMT says that the strike was the result of a “comprehensive breakdown” in industrial relations.

RMT members working for First Great Western have also voted to strike after failing to reach assurances over their jobs which they feared will be under threat when Hitachi Inter-City trains are introduced in 2017. The strike is due to commence at 6.30pm on 8 July.

Finally RMT members will also join a planned 24-hour strike by Aslef, the London Underground drivers’ union on 8 July in a dispute over the new all-night tube, due to start in mid-September.

These strikes come amidst government proposals to change strike laws.

Adrian Thompson, HR Director for Northern Rail commented: “We are disappointed that RMT Northern members have voted in favour of strike action and industrial action short of a strike, but note that only 38% of members who were asked to vote, voted yes to this. That means 62% of people who were asked to vote either voted no or did not vote.”

Clare Moore from Gordons comments “It is high time that changes to strike laws are introduced. The government has proposed that strikes should only result from a ballot in which least 50% of a union’s members have voted. It is also proposed that tougher thresholds in respects of strikes for workers in essential public services, such as transport, health and fire be introduced, so that in these sectors support of at least 40% of those entitled to take part in the ballot, as well as a majority of those who turn out to vote would be needed in order for a strike ballot to be valid. Such changes would be welcomed by rail companies and commuters alike and would undoubtedly reduce the number of strikes: indeed if the proposals were to become law, it does not appear that the Northern Rail strike would have been permitted to go ahead”.

To read the full article please see BBC News.