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Weekend disruption after last-minute strike suspension

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Three days of strikes have been suspended by Rail union RMT which will now enter into “a period of intensive negotiations with Network Rail and the train operating companies.”

The latest strike action – planned for 5, 7, and 9 November – was called off after the Union said it had secured the “promise of an offer” from the train companies.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The threat of strike action and our strongly supported industrial campaign has made the rail employers see sense. We have always wanted to secure a negotiated settlement and that is what we will continue to push for in this next phase of intensive talks.

“Our priority is our members, and we are working towards securing a deal on job security, a decent pay rise and good working conditions. Our re-ballot remains live and if we have to take strike action during the next 6 months to secure a deal, we will.”

The news was welcomed across the industry, but came too late to reinstate services over the weekend. Some services remain limited today (Monday 7 November), and disruption will continue until at least mid-week.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “It’s welcome news that the RMT has called off its strikes but the very late notice means that services for tomorrow cannot be reinstated and will remain extremely limited, and while we, and our train company partners, will work without pause over the weekend, there will be limited ability to change the ‘strike timetable’ for Monday. Our advice remains to please check before you travel and on Saturday and Monday and only travel by rail if absolutely necessary.

“We look forward to getting back round the table with all our Trades Unions early next week to see if the progress made this week can be built on, and a resolution found.”

Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director at West Midlands Railway (WMR), said: “Due to planning processes being complex, we are not able to simply switch back to an original weekday plan on Monday,”

“WMR and Network Rail colleagues have worked over the weekend to enable us to reinstate four additional services tomorrow. Updates to the level of service we can operate on Wednesday will be added to the website as soon as they are available.”

Angie Doll, Chief Operating Officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “Unfortunately we cannot reinstate services on Saturday 5 or Monday 7 November.

“This means services will remain limited, with a late start-up and early finish time. I’m sorry to say that people should travel by rail only if absolutely necessary on these days.”

Over the past few months, workers from several industries have taken strike action as pay rises fail to keep pace with double-digit inflation.

The TSSA has called off strike action on 5, 7, and 10 November in order to “facilitate the progress of ongoing constructive, intensive and detailed discussions.”

A separate strike by London Underground staff due to take place on 10 November is still scheduled to go ahead.

Image credit: istockphoto.com

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