Why are there train strikes? Union demands explained in full

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Three days of national strike action on Britain’s railways was announced by rail union RMT earlier this month. Staff at Network Rail and 13 train operators are taking part in the strike which will cripple the railways and disrupt thousands of passengers.

Why are there train strikes?

The RMT was in talks with Network Rail and train companies this year over staff salaries and job cuts in the railway network.

Union bosses announced that they were not able to secure a pay proposal or a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies in their announcement of the strike.

They also said workers had been subjected to multi-year pay freezes and thousands of jobs were at risk of being cut.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.

“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1 percent and rising.”

A report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in May accused Network Rail of planning to cut 2,500 safety-critical jobs.

It claimed axing the roles would increase the risk of major accidents on Britain’s railways and called for alternatives to be found for saving money.

Network Rail refuted the claim and said its plans to modernise the railway were being ignored.

A spokesperson for the company said: “The modernisation proposals we’ve put on the table would help our workforce be more flexible, enabling us to avoid compulsory job losses.

“The ideas would also help our workforce be safer because they won’t work on live tracks as often. So far our ideas have fallen on deaf ears.”

The dispute reached boiling point earlier this month when the two sides failed to make progress and rail workers voted in favour of strike action.

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What do union bosses want?

The RMT is calling for every worker to receive a pay rise that reflects the cost of living crisis.

It wants favourable negotiated terms on pay, working conditions, and pensions for the workers who keep the UK’s trains moving.

But not everyone is behind the strikes and concerns have been raised over people who rely on trains to get to work at places, such as the NHS and schools.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News yesterday that he was concerned for everyone’s income and also the people who won’t be able to go to work due to the strike action.

Express.co.uk looked at salaries for railway workers and found some earn much more than nurses and care workers.

The median salary for railway staff is £43,747 according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

By comparison, nurses take home £31,093 a year on average and care workers £16,502.

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