Rail passengers in London are facing transport misery after workers voted for a 24-hour strike starting on Bank Holiday Monday.
The walk-out by Network Rail (NR) workers was called by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and is over a pay and conditions dispute.
Unless averted, the strike will begin at 5pm on Monday (May 25), spoiling half term and Bank Holiday plans across the country, as well as causing commuter chaos for people returning to work after the long weekend the following morning, on Tuesday (May 26).
It will also affect up to 80,000 people attending the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium - between Middlesbrough and Norwich. That kicks off at 3pm on the Bank Holiday and will not finish until around 5pm at the earliest.
As well as the strike, RMT workers, including signalling and maintenance staff, also banned overtime, extended shifts or call-outs on May 25 and 26.
Its 16,000 members voted in favour of industrial action 4-1 after saying the latest National Rail pay proposals fall “well short” of what is required to maintain the living standards, job security and working conditions.
Union members have rejected a four-year deal worth £500 this year and three years of increases matching RPI inflation as well as a no compulsory redundancy commitment to December 2016.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “We have a massive mandate for action which shows the anger of safety-critical staff across the rail network at attacks on their standards of living and their job security.
“It is appalling that NR are refusing point blank to take this dispute seriously, to understand the deep-seated grievance felt by their staff and to come forward with a renewed offer which protects pay, jobs and safety.”
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said: “This strike is deliberately timed to cause maximum disruption to families trying to enjoy the half-term break and millions more returning to work after the Bank Holiday. I find it deplorable that the RMT can hold the travelling public to ransom in this way.”
David Leam, of London First, said 500,000 people travel to the capital by train every day, adding: “This rail strike is a real concern.
“Many of these people have no alternative option and will be forced to stay at home. That’s bad for business.”
The RMT and Network Rail say they hope further discussions planned before the industrial action can avert the strike.
The following are expected to be affected:
- Abellio Greater Anglia
- Arriva Trains Wales
- Caledonian Sleeper
- Chiltern Railways
- East Midlands Trains
- First Great Western
- First Hull Trains
- First TransPenine Express
- Gatwick Express
- Grand Central
- Great Northern
- Heathrow Connect
- Heathrow Express
- Island Line
- London Midland
- London Overground
- London Underground
- Northern Rail
- South West Trains
- Stansted Express
- Virgin Trains
- Virgin Trains East Coast
For more information, see the National Rail website.