Around 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 13 train operators across the country walked out again on Thursday as the bitter row over pay, jobs and conditions continued.
The largest rail strike for a generation has continued to cause travel chaos. with just one in five trains running on Thursday (23 June), and most were restricted to main lines, with around half of the network closed.
A limited number of services ran throughout the West Midlands, with most starting later than normal at 7.30am and were due to shut down early at 6.30pm.
Network Rail said the amount of people using its stations on Tuesday, the first day of this week’s strikes, was 12-18% of normal, and there was a similar situation on Thursday.
High street footfall was 16.1% lower to 1pm on Thursday than on the same day last week, and down 8.5% on Tuesday, retail analysts Springboard said.
What happened in Birmingham on Thursday, 23 June?
Like on Tuesday (21 June), Birmingham New Street and Moor Street were much quieter than usual.
RMT union pickets gathered at Birmingham New Street station, as seen in the tweet below.
Members of Birmingham’s National Education Union also joined the picket at New Street this morning to show support for the rail workers, as did members of the West Midlands University and College Union.
How are businesses being affected by the strikes?
Speaking to BirminghamWorld, some shop workers and independent businesses have expressed their frustration over the impact of the RMT strikes on their business.
Adam Skinner, a senior worker at the Grand Central Kitchen restaurant, which is located just outside Birmingham New Street Station, said the cafe is currently trading at ‘around a quarter’ of what they usually would.
He said: “We are losing a lot of business– we’re right across from New Street, so we get all the workers commuting, but at the moment we’re running at around a quarter of what we usually would do.
“We’re just doing what we can, serving as many people as possible that do come in, but we are going to be at a much less profit this week.”
The RMT has suggested it could continue the strikes until Christmas if demands on pay and conditions are not met.
Adam said: “That’s a big concern, because if we were to go months at a quarter profit, then it’s going to be a stuggle to keep the business open.
“Not to mention staff having to get into work – it’s a nightmare trying to get the staff in for the day at the moment because they can’t commute to work.
“I live in Wolverhampton, so I rely on the trains, and this morning I had to leave an hour and a half earlier than I usually would just to get to work – I had to get the bus which takes around an hour and a half.”
Adam, a single father, said he thinks the strikes are ‘ridiculous’. He added: “I’m a minimum wage worker – I have been my entire life. I’ve never been on a salary and the fact that it’s making it difficult for me to get to work and even earn – I’m a single father as well – it’s ridiculous in my opinion.”
What have RMT members said?
Ian Allen, the National Executive for the RMT Midlands, told BirminghamWorld on Tuesday: “We’re on strike protecting our members jobs, our members terms and conditions and and our members who worked two years through the pandemic for a pay rise which they haven’t received for over two years.
“We’ve had a lot of other trade unions, including Birmingham Trades Council, and we’ve seen the travelling public, and everyone has been in solidarity with us, and we’ve had no negative feedback at all.”
What will happen next?
The disruption will continue on Friday, with only 60% of trains running, mainly because of a delay to the start of services as signallers and control room staff will not turn up for overnight shifts.
Strike action is also scheduled on Saturday (June 25).
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.
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