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TUC warns strikes will spread across UK as rail standstills

Strikes will spread across the UK unless the government acts on its promise to create a high-wage economy, the leader of the country’s main organized labor movement has warned.

Frances O’Grady, secretary general of the Trades Union Congress, said that workers across the country are supporting striking railroad workers and will, in some cases, take up their own ballot to “pay wages.” plain”.

The government is bracing for a summer of discontent, with unions taking steps towards industrial action on behalf of workers, from doctors, nurses and local government employees to traffic police and postal workers.

Criminal attorneys voted over the weekend to step up action on legal aid and plan walkouts over several days in each of the next four weeks.

The TUC won’t rule out coordinating action, O’Grady said, but added: “The problem is that workers are coordinating themselves, not out of any deliberate strategy but because millions of people are now are facing low, insecure wages and actually have their pay packages cut, so of course workers who feel no choice will vote.”

Ministers are looking to keep public sector wages growing at at least 2% despite the Bank of England’s forecast for inflation to hit 11% by October.

Although the government insists it still wants “high wages, a high-growth economy”, Simon Clarke, secretary of the Treasury, told the BBC on Monday that public sector workers should not be expected to grow accordingly. inflationary.

On Tuesday, Network Rail’s 40,000 employees at 13 train operators will have to contend over pay and overages, with further layoffs on Thursday and Saturday.

A train southbound goes to Victoria station in London
Some 40,000 rail workers will go on strike on Tuesday over pay and redundancy issues, with layoffs continuing on Thursday and Saturday © Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images

Disruption is expected on all major UK train lines, including the LNER, West Coast Avanti and many commuter rail lines, as well as the London Underground. It will likely last in the days between official strikes.

Steve Montgomery, president of Rail Delivery Group, an industry body, said the organization still hopes to avoid the strike. “Obviously we’re talking to the union again today but we need to try to work together to try to stop this.”

In a sign of the UK government’s low expectations for rail talks and the prospect of other industrial action over the summer, Kwasi Kwartengbusiness secretary, this week plans to repeal the legal ban on the use of temporary workers to replace striking employees.

Kwarteng was set to repeal the 1973 ban by passing so-called secondary laws – laws that a minister could approve because powers were vested in them by other acts of parliament.

While railway groups welcome plans to scrap the 1973 law – a 2015 conservative manifesto pledge that has yet to be realized – the step is only likely to ease pressure on staff shortages in the region. low-skill roles such as cleaners and station attendants. It will take effect in mid-July.

Rail union RMT said it would not be able to run the network with agency staff, particularly because the biggest disruption was caused by pedestrian signaling staff, who are not easily replaced.

Mick Lynch, secretary general of RMT, said it would be “absolutely impossible” to use agency staff to keep the rail line running.

The union warned the strike – the biggest strike in more than 30 years – would continue until their pay demands are met. RMT members voted for a six-month strike in May, leaving the possibility of more strikes in the summer and fall.

The opposition Labor Party has asked the government to hold final talks with unions to stop strike action.

Louise Haigh, shadow transport secretary, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program where the government has failed to set the negotiating mandate for employers.

“They are not only boycotting the negotiations, they are actually hobbling them. . . force them to enter”.

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