British trains disrupted by second widespread rail strike in a week – Times of India

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Southeastern trains on sidings near Ashford railway station as members of the drivers’ union Aslef walk outside their pay for 24 hours at seven train operators, in Kent, England, Saturday, July 30, 2022 (AP)

LONDON: About 5,000 train drivers in almost a quarter of BritainThe rail network went on strike on Saturday as part of a campaign for higher wages after inflation in the country hit its highest point in 40 years.
The 24-hour strike organized by the train drivers’ union ASLEF is the second major industrial action on Britain’s rail network this week, after 40,000 members of the RMT and TSSA unions – representing other railway workers – staged a major strike on Wednesday.
Rising inflation – consumer price inflation is currently at 9.4% – and patchy wage increases have exacerbated labor tensions in sectors including postal services, health care, schools, airports and the judiciary.
The rail strike would cause “significant disruption” all day Saturday and Sunday morning, according to Network Rail, which manages Britain’s rail infrastructure.
Nearly all services on seven of the country’s 34 train operators were cancelled, including regional networks for Southeast and East England as well as long-distance lines connecting London to South West England, North East England and Edinburgh.
UK rail services are mostly for-profit operated by state-owned foreign railway companies that receive short-term contracts and operating subsidies from the government. Those subsidies increased when passengers stayed at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said the franchise agreements typically provided only 2% pay increases for drivers.
“At this time of the cost of living crisis, we believe this Catch-22 situation cannot continue,” Whelan said. BBC radio.
Steve Montgomery, director of rail operator First Rail and chairman of the industry-wide Rail Delivery Groupsaid operators would only give higher pay increases if operators agreed to changes in work practices that would save money.
“We’re not telling people to ‘work more hours,’ but to be more productive within the hours they currently have,” he said.
ASLEF plans to hold another one-day strike on August 13.

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