Train divers walkout brings more misery on UK railways


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LONDON (AP) — Workers, holidaymakers and sports fans faced travel disruptions in Britain as thousands of train drivers walked off the job on Saturday, the latest strike in a labor dispute from more and more bitter on the railroads of the country.

Around 5,000 conductors staged a 24-hour strike against seven train companies across England. It happened on the second full day of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the first day of the new English football season.

The conductors’ walkout follows four one-day strikes since June by railway cleaners, flagmen, maintenance workers and station staff in a dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions .

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Unions are fighting for substantial wage increases to deal with inflation of more than 9% and the worst cost of living crisis in decades. Rail companies are seeking to cut costs and staff after two years of pandemic in which government emergency funding kept them afloat.

Unions accuse the Conservative government of preventing rail companies – which are private but heavily regulated – from getting a better deal, which the government denies.

Writing in The Times of London, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps accused ‘militant union leaders’ of resisting needed reforms and ‘taking the taxpayer for a ride, but not in the way they were supposed to. « .

Mick Whelan, leader of train drivers’ union ASLEF, said workers simply wanted a « realistic » pay rise.

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« For the last three years we haven’t had any pay rises, » he told the BBC. « The people we work for will earn hundreds of millions of pounds and give money to their shareholders. »

Further strikes are planned for August, in what is proving to be a summer of travel disruption, in Britain and around the world. Air travelers in many countries are facing delays and disruption as airports struggle to cope with staff shortages and soaring demand for flights after two years of the pandemic.

Truckers and Britons going on holiday by ferry faced hours of waiting at the Port of Dover last week due to Brexit delays and a shortage of French border agents.



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