RMT Midlands worker on why train strikes in Birmingham must go ahead as last ditch talks fail

One RMT Midlands member explains why he is striking as

A rail union worker has said that strikes are needed to save jobs because train stations in the Midlands could become dangerous for people and turn into a ‘muggers’ paradise’ if jobs are cut.

The RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) has claimed that thousands of jobs were being axed across the rail network which could lead to workers facing compulsory redundancy.

As well as pay concerns, Regional Admin Manager for RMT Midlands, John Watson, said there are currently staff shortages ‘galore’ - and that job cuts and redundancies are some of the key reasons behind the biggest rail strikes in 30 years, which is set to go ahead tomorrow (Tuesday, June 21) after last ditch talks fell apart.

The RMT union, Network Rail and train operators met earlier today (Monday, 20 June) in an attempt to reach an agreement to avoide three 24-hour walkouts this week. But the parties have failed to reach a compromise over pay, redundancy and safety demands - despite weeks of negotiations.

RMT union members are due to strike for three days this week with travellers being advised to avoid rail travel from 21, 23 and 26 June (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Thousands of rail workers will walk out after the overwhelming vote in favour of full-scale industrial action, will six days of disruption expected. Here’s what a key RMT Midlands member told BirminghamWorld.

John Watson, Regional Admin Manager for RMT Midlands

‘Stations could become no-go areas’

John Watson, Regional Admin Manager for RMT Midlands, said train stations could even become ‘no-go areas’ for some people if rail jobs are cut.

He said current staff numbers at train stations aren’t adequate, and that they could become dangerous for people with less staff and security around.

Speaking to BirminghamWorld , he said: “Train stations could become no-go areas for passengers, including for those with disabilities and the elderly because of less staff and a lack of security.

“For example, with a lack of staff members, train stations coud turn into a muggers’ paradise with anti-social behaviour. It would also certainly scare the older generation if they are trying to travel by train during an evening or an afternoon, but if there’s no station staff around then stations will become no-go areas for people.

“So this is not just about pay, it’s also about staff shortages; every point of this is just as important as the next point.”

Responding to concerns over how the strike will affect people across the region, he said: “We totally sympathise and it’s not something we’ve just done at the top of our heads – or just decided to suddenly do. This is happening after months and months of trying to push the government into talks.

“I’m a communter myself and travel into Birmingham everyday from my home station, and this is not just happening over the pay - a lot of this is over working conditions and job losses that are potentially coming.”

West Midlands Railway train

Thousands of workers to strike across the country

More than 50,000 workers across Network Rail, 13 train operators and Transport for London will strike this week.

Labour has accused the Government of “hobbling” the talks by failing to set a negotiating mandate for the train operators. However, the Government has said that its involvement would “only confuse things”.

The three-day action is due to coincide with a series of major cultural and sporting events around the country, including the Glastonbury festival.

Grand Central Train Station and New Street Mall Birmingham UK

How will the West Midlands be affected?

West Midlands Railway (WMR) has confirmed it will operate a reduced timetable during the strike days over the next few days.

A very limited number of WMR services will run on these dates, with passengers urged to only travel if essential. In order to allow vital freight transportation to continue, those services which do run will operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on these days.

A significantly reduced service will also operate on Wednesday 22 June and Friday 24 June as the strike action will impact the usual operation of the railway.

The following routes will have a limited service in operation between 7.30am and 6.30pm on strike days:

  • Cross-City Line (Lichfield Trent Valley – Redditch/Bromsgrove via Birmingham New Street) – 2 trains per hour
  • Wolverhampton – Birmingham – 1 train per hour
  • Birmingham New Street – Birmingham International – 1 train per hour

No trains will run on any other WMR route, including all routes via Birmingham Snow Hill, Birmingham-Shrewsbury, Birmingham-Worcester-Hereford and Nuneaton-Leamington Spa.On these days services will commence at 7.30am with last trains earlier than usual.

For more information about disruption on Midland rail services during the industrial action see our story here: New service timetables for WMR, AWC and CrossCountry

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