The chaos of train and tube strikes is sadly not over, with further industrial action set to take place in August.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) have announced two further days of strike action on August 18 and August 20, affecting 14 train operators and Network Rail and involving 40,000 staff.
Despite members of the RMT having been offered a 5pc pay rise, heavily discounted train travel for family members and cash bonuses of up to £900 each in a scramble to prevent further strikes, they will continue to disrupt services and they walked out again on July 27.
Less than 48 hours’ later, the train drivers’ union Aslef went on strike over pay.
Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), which represents station and ticket office workers, also backed industrial action, with Southeastern workers striking over pay, job security and conditions.
On top of that, ballots will soon close for strike action at Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry and Direct Rail Services.
Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said: “We don’t want to go on strike – strikes are the result of a failure of negotiation – and this union, since I was elected GS in 2011, has only ever been on strike, until this year, for a handful of days.
“But we’ve been forced into this position by the train companies, driven by the Tory government. The drivers at the companies where we are striking have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years – since April 2019.”
Here’s what you need to know about the RMT and Aslef strikes, and other potential union strike action.
What days are train and Tube strikes happening?
- Saturday, August 13
- Thursday, August 18
- Friday, August 19 – Tube strike
- Saturday, August 20
Which train operators will be affected?
The RMT rail strikes in August will affect Network Rail, as well as the following operators: Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).
The TSSA is also currently balloting members at West Midlands Trains, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, TransPennine Express for industrial action.
Southeastern, which is wholly owned by the Department for Transport (DfT) and runs train services between London and Kent, as well as parts of East Sussex, will be also hit by the TSSA strikes. Stations potentially hit include London St Pancras, Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street, as well as Dover Priory, Ramsgate, Ashford International, Dartford and Sevenoaks.
Is there a Tube strike?
The RMT has announced another Tube strike on August 19.
RMT leader Mick Lynch said: “Our members will once again take to picket lines in this important dispute over pensions, jobs and conditions.
“They have been messed around by Transport for London and Mayor Sadiq Khan. Unless there can be assurances made about jobs, pensions and detrimental changes to working conditions, then our strike on August 19 will go ahead.”
Meanwhile, overnight action continues to affect the Central, Jubilee, Northern and Victoria lines every Friday and Saturday until December 6.
The London Underground came to a 24-hour standstill on June 21 when RMT members decided to go on strike in a row over how TfL is cutting running costs.
What are workers striking over?
The Aslef strikes are all about pay. Mr Whelan argues that members have not had a pay rise since 2019.
“We want an increase in line with the cost of living – we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021 – for those members – who were, you will remember, the people who moved key workers and goods around the country during the pandemic,” he said.
The August RMT train strikes (and the July 27 rail strike) are the latest in the union’s dispute over job security, pay and working conditions. Mr Lynch said: “The rail industry and the Government need to understand that this dispute will not simply vanish.
“They need to get serious about providing an offer on pay which helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work.
“Recent proposals from Network Rail fell well short on pay and on safety around maintenance work. And the train operating companies have not even made us a pay offer in recent negotiations.
“We remain open for talks, but we will continue our campaign until we reach a negotiated settlement.”
The August Tube strike is over an ongoing dispute over pensions and jobs. The RMT said this call to action was “prompted by TfL’s refusal to share the details of a draft government proposal they received regarding funding of the transport system in the capital.”
Meanwhile TSSA members are protesting over pay, jobs and conditions.
“If ministers had any sense they would come to the table and sort this out, so we have a fair settlement for workers who were hailed as heroes in the pandemic,” TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said.
Can I get a refund or travel on another service if my train is cancelled?
According to consumer group Which?, the process differs based on which train company someone is travelling with, and customers can “only claim compensation during a rail strike for a delay based on the replacement or emergency timetable for train or replacement bus services”.
What is the Government doing about it?
The Government has already threatened new minimum service requirements that would require a certain number of trains to run during a strike. However, ministers have warned it could take months to draw up the new laws.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary who has dropped out of the race to be the next Tory leader, was quick to condemn the strikes.
“On a salary of almost £60,000, it isn’t fair for train drivers to hurt those on lower wages with more walkouts,” he wrote on Twitter.
This article is kept updated with the latest information.