Transport secretary Grant Shapps has accused the UK’s unions of “gunning” for strikes as a major union boss warns that widespread industrial action is likely this summer.
When asked if there could be a so-called summer of discontent, National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) boss Mick Lynch said: “I think there are going to be many unions balloting across the country, because people can’t take it anymore.
“We have got people who doing full time jobs who are having to take state benefits and use food banks. That is a national disgrace.”
More than 40,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) will walk off the job on 21, 23 and 25 June in what are being described as the largest rail strikes in 30 years.
The crippling strike action will take place across 13 rail companies and National Rail, with around half of all UK lines set to be closed.
Shapps told Sky News today that the RMT bosses walked out of negotiations with the government yesterday over the strikes to instead attend a large Trades Union Congress (TUC) rally – an accusation denied by Lynch.
Shapps said unions were now “gunning” for strike action.
He said: “All we’re asking for is modernisation in return for pay and I think that’s a very reasonable thing to ask for and I think the public realise we can’t carry on footing the likes of £16bn – that’s £160,000 per individual worker on the railway over the last couple of years.”
This industrial action will disrupt events such as the Glastonbury Festival and Elton John’s concert in Hyde Park, while there are also concerns around disruption to GCSE school exams.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research said the rail strikes will deliver a £91m blow to the economy, with London disproportionately affected.