The UK will need to brace itself for nation-wide disruption as 40,000 rail members of the union RMT announced late last night an additional two days’ strike on 18 and 20 August.
RMT members working at Network Rail and 14 other operators announced earlier this week they will also walk out on 27 July in a dispute over salaries and job cuts.
The industrial action will impact services on Network Rail, 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 Govia Thameslink.
Avanti West Coast’s platform and ticketing staff will join on that same day, ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The RMT’s decision is the latest straw in what many are calling the UK’s “summer of discontent,” which began in June after the RMT workers brought the country to a standstill with a three-day strike action.
“The rail industry and the government need to understand that this dispute will not simply vanish,” said RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch.
“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.”
According to the Lynch, the public continues to support workers, as many people “are in the same position as our members.”
“They have not had a pay rise, they feel they are being exploited by the employers and they feel that the Government is pushing down on wages in order to protect profits in this country, which are still at higher levels, and dividends are still being paid out,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps accused the union of not being “serious about talks with industry.”
“Modernisation of our rail industry is an absolute necessity for the benefit of everyone, and that isn’t going to change,” he tweeted.
The walk out comes after the union rejected a “paltry offer” from Network Rail, which included a two-year salary increase worth over 8 per cent and a freeze on compulsory redundancies.
The deal was conditional on workplace and modernisation reforms, such as reducing maintenance jobs by 20 per cent.
Train drivers at eight rail operators also announced yesterday they will go on strike on 30 July in a dispute over pay, their union Aslef announced.
The strike marks the drivers’ first national walkout since 1995.
Commenting on the industrial action ahead Henry Johnstone, chief operating officer of London HQ ,told City A.M.: “Businesses have been reaping the benefits of having workers back in the office, and there will be a significant and measurable impact on organisations across London that rely on commuters making their way into the capital.
“With the summer season ripe for tourism and businesses desperate to take advantage of the increased footfall, we urge the unions and train operating companies to find a solution and avert the further economic damage these strikes will cause.”