The United Kingdom is preparing for a massive three-day rail strike this week, which could be the worst in 30 years and could spread to many other sectors, due to a dispute between unions and rail companies over wages and jobs.
The RMT rail union, which is demanding wage increases in line with rising inflation, announced in early June that more than 50,000 railroad workers would walk out “in the biggest industry dispute since 1989” and the major privatizations in the sector.
The biggest day of action is scheduled for Tuesday and will affect train lines throughout the country as well as the London Underground. The movement will resume on Thursday and Saturday, but transport will be disrupted from Monday until Sunday.
Last-minute negotiations between the companies and RMT failed on Monday, the union announced in a statement at the end of the day, considering “unacceptable” the proposals made by the employers.
The strike “will bring suffering and chaos to millions of users,” said Transport Minister Grant Shapps in Parliament on Monday evening.
The government had called on the parties to negotiate right up to the last minute, but both unions and the Labour opposition blame the minister for not sitting down at the negotiating table himself.
“In such discussions, it is always up to the employer and the unions to meet and negotiate” and the government “is not the employer”, said Mr. Shapps.