How will rail and metro strikes affect services?

Paddington Station

Rail and tube strikes are expected to cripple services this week, causing travel chaos for passengers across the UK.

– Who is on strike?

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union of Network Rail and 13 rail operators.

– When are the strikes?

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

(PA graphics)
(PA graphics)

– How severe will the disruption be?

Less than one in five trains will run, and only on the main lines and only for around 11 hours, starting later and finishing earlier.

– Will there be strikes on the London Underground?

Yes. RMT and Unite members will strike on Tuesday.

– Are other unions involved in the dispute?

Yes. The Association of Transport Employees and the Aslef Drivers’ Union are also taking industrial action or voting for strikes.

Members of the Aslef union will participate
Members of the Aslef union will participate (Lewis Stickley/PA)

– What are strikes for?

The railways are offering to make efficiency savings, especially as fewer passengers are traveling by train due to the pandemic, which has led to more people working from home.

– Why do unions go on strike?

They say many of their members have worked throughout the virus crisis and been hailed as ‘Covid heroes’ but are now facing job cuts, changes to their working conditions and to wage increases well below the rate of inflation after years of wage freezes.

– Will there be other strikes after this week?

Yes. Aslef members on the Croydon Tramlink will stage a 48-hour strike next week, with further strikes likely if there is no breakthrough.

– Were there talks to try to resolve the dispute?

Yes. The talks continued until Monday, involving senior officials from RMT and the rail industry.

– Why was the government not involved in the negotiations?

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said it was up to unions and employers to negotiate wages and conditions, but Labor and unions believe he should be part of the talks.

– What are the efficiency savings desired by the industry?

They largely revolve around using new technology, such as drones to check train tracks rather than having workers walk along the lines.

– How many jobs are at risk of being lost?

Unions estimate that between 2,000 and 2,500 jobs are at risk.

– Who are the union leaders?

The general secretary of the RMT is Mick Lynch, who worked for the union for decades after an earlier career in the construction industry. He succeeded Mick Cash, who had succeeded Bob Crow after his sudden death.

Mick Lynch
Mick Lynch is general secretary of the RMT (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The TSSA is led by Manuel Cortes and Aslef by Mick Whelan, both of whom are long-time railway union officials.

– Are union leaders driving strikes?

Thousands of RMT members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the strikes, while similar results are expected among TSSA and Aslef members currently voting.

– Has a salary offer been made and what are the unions asking for?

Offers of around 2.5% have been made in discussions with Network Rail, although nothing has been officially tabled by the rail operators.

The unions point to the RPI inflation rate at 11%, although they have not formally quantified their demands.