Britain is facing its biggest rail strike in over 30 years as over 40,000 union workers walked out on Tuesday bringing England, Scotland and Wales to a screeching halt. The workers decided to stage a walkout for 3 days this week after talks between workers’ union and rail companies over increased pay broke down.
National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) will stage the walkout on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday this week, while a separate London underground strike is also taking place on Tuesday. With the inflation hitting double digits in the UK thanks to high food and fuel prices, the workers are demanding a 7% hike in their pay, while the rail companies are offering them a 2% increase.
The last time such a massive strike was seen, was back in 1989 when the workers got an 8.8% increase following their strike. RMT is also concerned about the loss of jobs following the Network Rail modernization program.
The strike has thrown normal life in Britain into disarray as only 4,500 out of the usual 20,000 daily services are running thanks to the strike. With the London underground also shut, commuters were chaotically looking for other forms of transport, resulting in a heavy rush in buses, and on the road.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the Britain rail strike will severely impact businesses that are recovering from Covid restrictions, and this strike will only hurt the people the unions claim to be helping. Johnson said, “By going ahead with these rail strikes, they are driving away commuters who ultimately support the jobs of rail workers, whilst also impacting businesses and communities across the country.”
However, RMT dismissed Johnson’s remarks and said that their demands are totally justified during the current cost of living crisis.