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A major strike in the United Kingdom brought rail transport practically to a complete halt

The two unions representing workers in Britain’s transport sector, the RMT and the TSSA, have called a UK-wide strike on Wednesday to protest long-standing dissatisfaction with pay, working conditions and workplace safety.

As a result of the strike, rail services have come to a complete halt in many parts of the country, and the last trains leave many London stations between two and four in the afternoon.

Britain’s concession rail network has been hit by sudden traffic jams since the coronavirus pandemic eased; During the two years during the epidemic, the railway companies supported themselves with state support, However, with the lifting of sanitary measures and the resurgence of tourism, workers are no longer able to carry out daily transport-related tasks.

Government-run infrastructure company Network Rail – which maintains many railway lines in England, Scotland and Wales, and whose workers also joined the strike on Wednesday – has offered the RMT union a four per cent pay rise following now-deadlocked negotiations. A further four per cent increase is stipulated if the employees agree to the amendment of certain points of their contract.

In a statement, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Network Rail has made no changes to its recent pay rise offer and the rail companies have offered us nothing new”. For these reasons, members of the union are “more determined than ever to secure fair wage increases and improve workplace safety and other conditions.”

Great Britain’s population is currently struggling with inflation of 9.4 percent, a situation not helped by more than ten years of stagnant real wages and the worst living crisis in decades.

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Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shabbs accused the unions of “disrupting the daily lives of millions of hardworking people across the country” and condemned the timing of Wednesday’s strike, which he said was planned to coincide with the European semi-finals. Women’s Football Championship, and with the start of the Commonwealth Games.

There is a difference of opinion among the public regarding the strike of the transport workers. The BBC reported that many on the news page of British public service media sympathized with the railway workers and supported the movement, however, many passengers were not informed in advance of Wednesday’s flight cancellations, not just the resulting plans. Commuters, vacationers and tourists were also upset.

Following last month’s strikes, the government recently amended the law to allow employers to hire casual workers to do the work of striking workers, reducing the negative effects of the strike.

Cover image: Getty Images