Workers at three train operators running services out of Liverpool Lime Street, as well as staff at Network Rail, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. Tony McDonough reports
Passengers using Liverpool Lime Street station are facing a summer of chaos after staff at three operators running services from the city voted in favour of strike action.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) working at 13 operators, as well as those working for Network Rail, overwhelmingly backed strike action over pay, jobs and safety. Action could start as early as mid-June.
They included workers at Avanti West Coast, which runs services between Liverpool and London, as well as Transpennine Express and Northern Trains which both operate services across the north of England.
According to the RMT 71% of the 40,000 balloted took part in the vote with 89% voting in favour of strike action and only 11% voting against. It will now demand “urgent talks” with Network Rail and the 15 train operating companies that were balloted to find a negotiated settlement to the dispute over pay, jobs and safety.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union’s approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies.
“Our NEC will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June, but we sincerely hope ministers will encourage the employers to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a reasonable settlement with the RMT.”
The companies are:
- Network Rail
- Chiltern Railways
- Cross Country Trains
- Greater Anglia
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern
- South Western Railway
- Transpennine Express
- Avanti West Coast
- West Midlands Trains
Staff at GTR (including Gatwick Express) voted for action short of going out on strike.
A spokesperson for the Department for Transport, said: “Strikes should always be the last resort, not the first, so it is hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is calling for industrial action before even entering discussions.
“Taxpayers across the country contributed £16bn to keep our railways running throughout the pandemic while ensuring not a single worker lost their job. The railway is still on life support, with passenger numbers 25 per cent down and anything that drives away even more of them risks killing services and jobs.
“We urge the RMT to reconsider and accept the invitation of industry talks, so we can find a solution that delivers for workers, passengers and taxpayers alike.”