Start of the second day of railway strikes after the collapse of the negotiations | railway strikes

A second strike day is underway on Thursday after talks to avoid the walkout collapsed into rancor on Wednesday night.

Millions of passengers face disruption to train services in Britain as 40,000 RMT members working for Network Rail and 13 train operating companies stage their second strike in a week.

Only one in five trains will run on Thursday, and services will only run between 7:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Most trains will be restricted to main lines, with around half of the network closed. Passengers are asked to travel only if necessary.

The government plans to change the law, repealing “burdensome” legal restrictions, to allow companies to provide temporary agency workers to cover striking staff during industrial action. Network Rail welcomed the move, but unions and workers condemned it as a “recipe for disaster”.

Last night, RMT union leader Mick Lynch criticized transport secretary Grant Shapps for “ruining negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw its letter threatening to lay off 2,900 of our members” in the pay dispute. . working conditions and proposed “modernization” plans. Shapps called RMT’s claim “a total lie”. Network Rail said the union had walked away from the talks.

Separately, the Salaried Transport Staff Association announced that its members at Merseyrail had accepted a wage offer of 7.1%.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s Northwest and Central region managing director, said a similar deal with RMT was “highly unlikely.” “We currently have an offer amounting to 3% on the table and we are keen to improve that, but that is subject to affordability,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Thursday.

He said the difference between the 3% and 7.1% payment offers was £65m each year of cost savings the industry would have to find. But he added: “We can see a way to finance a wage deal, not in that kind of proportions, but it’s still a good overall package that recognizes that the main thing unions are asking for is a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.”

Also speaking on Radio 4, RMT deputy general secretary Eddie Dempsey said he would speak to Shoveller on Thursday and that Network Rail’s letter would not necessarily prevent the union from negotiating.

However, he added: “What we cannot understand is how people in the industry can go to the media and say ‘We do not intend to forcefully fire people’ but send us a letter initiating the legal process to inquire about layoffs.” and refusing to give us a non-mandatory severance guarantee, which is the number one lawsuit we have in this dispute.”

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