A fresh round of widespread strikes was set to disrupt rail services in the United Kingdom (UK) on Friday and Saturday amid an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions, once again affecting families' travel plans, reported Xinhua.
ASLEF, the train drivers' union, has announced a one-day industrial action on Friday and a ban on working overtime across the UK rail network on Saturday. The strike will force companies to cancel all services in the country and the ban will seriously disrupt the network, it said.
"We don't want to take this action but the train companies and the government, which stands behind them, have forced us into this place because they refuse to sit down and talk to us and have not made a fair and sensible pay offer to train drivers, who have not had one for four years," Mick Whelan, ASLEF's general secretary, said.
ASLEF has so far called 11 one-day strikes during this 15-month dispute.
Adding to the chaos, 20,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) will go on strike on Saturday across 14 train operators.
"The government is not serious about settling this dispute, which is leading to further disruptions for passengers," RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch said.
"Our industrial campaign will continue as long as it takes to get a negotiated settlement, and to save as many ticket offices as possible. RMT members remain committed to winning a pay rise, securing their future employment and maintaining good working conditions," Lynch added.
In response, a spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, the British rail industry membership body, said the industry will be working hard to keep as many services running as possible.
"There is no question the strikes called by the RMT and ASLEF leaderships are deliberately designed to target passengers who want to enjoy various sporting events and festivals during the bank holiday and at the end of the summer holidays, disrupting their plans, hurting local economies and forcing more cars onto the road," the spokesperson said.
The UK has been in the grip of high inflation for more than a year. Households have felt the squeeze amid a worsening cost-of-living crisis. Widespread strikes broke out during the summer of 2022 due to pay disputes.
There were 160,000 working days lost because of labor disputes in June 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Airline/airport workers, railway workers and border force/passport control officials all enjoy the support of 36 percent of Britons, an Ipsos poll showed in July. However, while airport and border force staff strikes were opposed by 32 percent of the respondents, a slightly higher proportion, 37 percent, were opposed to the railway workers' strikes.