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Travel chaos as train strike paralyses rail network

Travellers wait at Euston station in London (AP)
Travellers wait at Euston station in London (AP)

Travellers faced severe disruption as rail strikes paralysed the train network across parts of the UK on Saturday.

Train passengers experienced another day of travel misery on the railways as the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) staged a 24-hour walkout quick on the heels of Aslef’s own 24-hour strike.

The move paralysed much of the network and caused chaos for people hoping to travel to Liverpool for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Further strikes are planned for May 31 and June 3, which will coincide with the FA Cup final, prompting accusations from ministers that the unions are actively targeting major events with their walkouts.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (centre) joins members of his union on the picket line outside Euston station (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (centre) joins members of his union on the picket line outside Euston station (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

This has been denied by union leaders.

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RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said he was sorry for the disruption but added that people have had “plenty of time” to make alternative travel arrangements, with the union having given more than two weeks’ notice.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today is the last day under the anti-union laws that we can have a strike under the mandate. You get six months to run action. After that six months, you cannot take any more action.

“Today is the last Saturday of our previous mandate.

“We give two weeks’ notice under the law, which is what the Government requirement is, but if we didn’t take strike action today, we wouldn’t have been able to take any more during that mandate.

“So, that’s down to the anti-trade union laws.

“We’ve not targeted Wembley or Liverpool or any of the activities that people get up to. There isn’t a day where people aren’t undertaking important activities, in business life or personal life.

“We don’t set the date of Eurovision. We don’t set the anti-trade union laws that require us to have a mandate that expires after six months.”

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “While we are always open to dialogue, the only summit the RMT need is between its negotiating team and its executive committee.

“Time and time again they have blocked the deal negotiated line by line by its top team from going out to its membership for a vote, with frontline losing out on a pay rise of up to 13 per cent as a result.

“It’s time the union leadership and executive finally agreed on what they want from these negotiations.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Since coming into office, ministers have met with the RMT leadership four times and helped facilitate three fair pay offers from employers.

“It’s now time for unions to give their members a democratic say on their future.”