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Rail Strike Action To Disrupt UK Services At Start And End Of November

Rail passengers could face strikes at both ends of November when the drivers union meets next week to decide on further action later in the month, at the same time as RMT industrial action brings a week of disruption from Saturday.

Three 24-hour national rail strikes will bring many train services around Britain to a halt. A London Underground strike is also planned. Passengers have been warned to travel only if necessary.

Most services will not run on Saturday 5, Monday 7 and Wednesday 9 November, when members of the RMT union at Network Rail, including thousands of signalling staff, will take action. On the first strike day, this Saturday, RMT staff and 15 train operating companies will join the strike.

However, the smaller TSSA union has called off its planned action at Network Rail to facilitate further talks.

About 20% of normal services are expected to run on strike days, with the first and last trains generally running between 7.30am and 6.30pm. Some disruption is expected in the early morning after each strike day.

A strike by London Underground RMT members will halt virtually the entire tube network on Friday 10 November, with action by staff at Arriva Rail London also reducing Overground services that day.

Some tube and overground services in the capital will be affected during the week by the national rail signallers’ strike. The Elizabeth line, which will start running through trains to and from central London from the outer Reading or Shenfield lines for the first time on Sunday, will operate fewer trains and indirect services.

The national executive committee of the Aslef train drivers union will meet next week with further strikes on the agenda. Drivers have not taken industrial action since the strikes during the Conservative party conference in early October, but the lack of progress means that further strikes are likely before the end of November.

Both the RMT and Aslef are balloting their members at train companies for a further strike mandate, lasting until July 2023 and potentially enabling another six months of strikes.

Unions have yet to meet the new transport secretary, Mark Harper. However, he said on Wednesday he would be “happy to meet the trade unions”.

“I’m very happy to do that and my department will be reaching out to those trade union leaders in due course,” Harper said during an appearance on LBC.

Hopes for a breakthrough under the brief tenure of former transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan were raised when she invited union leaders for early meetings, in contrast to the refusal of her predecessor, Grant Shapps.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said this week that rail employers had “yet to make an offer that will create the conditions for a negotiated settlement”, and called upon the new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to “unshackle the rail industry” to allow a deal.

He said: “We will vigorously pursue our industrial campaign until we achieve a deal.”

Network Rail has said that a “fair and affordable two-year 8% deal” remained on the table, with job security and staff travel. Its chief executive, Andrew Haines, accused unions of being “more intent on more damaging strikes than working with us to compromise and agree a deal”.

He said: “These strikes undermine the railway’s recovery from the pandemic and drive passengers away at a time when everyone involved in the railway should be focused on attracting more passengers and freight forwarders to the network, at the same time as building a railway fit for the future.”

TfL said the strike in London, in a dispute over potential changes to jobs and pensions, was “highly disappointing”. Its interim chief operating officer, Glynn Barton, said: “No changes to TfL pensions are currently tabled, and no one has or will lose their job as a result of any changes proposed.”

A strike originally planned for 3 November was called off due to a clash with the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Day appeal.

The planned strikes in full:

Saturday 5 November

A 24-hour strike by RMT staff at Network Rail and at the following train operators: Great Western Railway, Avanti West Coast, South Western Railway, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Northern Trains, South Eastern, Transpennine Express, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

Monday 7 November

A 24-hour strike by RMT staff at Network Rail.

Wednesday 9 November

A 24-hour strike by RMT staff at Network Rail, plus some TSSA staff at Avanti West Coast, Southeastern and South Western Railway.

Limited strike action by some TSSA and Unite staff will also take place at various train operators through the week, but is not expected to additionally disrupt services. An overtime ban is also in place for TSSA staff at several operators throughout November.

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