Question Time: UK 'should ban rail strikes' says Harwood

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Train drivers are to strike over pay and more rail workers are to be balloted for industrial action in growing disputes in the industry which threaten huge travel disruption in the coming weeks. Aslef announced strikes at three companies in separate rows over pay, while the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) served notice of an industrial action ballot. GB News’ political correspondent Tom Harwood called on the UK to learn from countries like Spain and Belgium.

Train drivers are to strike over pay and more rail workers are to be balloted for industrial action in growing disputes in the industry which threaten huge travel disruption in the coming weeks. Aslef announced strikes at three companies in separate rows over pay, while the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) served notice of an industrial action ballot. GB News’ political correspondent Tom Harwood called on the UK to learn from countries like Spain and Belgium.

He said: “There are some ticket booths around the country that sell about one ticket a week. Do these need to be manned all the time? Probably not.

“Any rational business would think it is rational to modernise, update and move forward and yet the RMT doesn’t want to do anything like that.

“They want to freeze the railways in time, not make any new changes and that’s just not a sensible way that we can run any national infrastructure.

“We saw during Covid how important the railways were. They were classed as something of national importance, they had to keep running.

“Perhaps we can learn from these European countries such as Spain, Belgium, France and Italy which all ban national strikes on their railways.

“That’s a sensible policy that can keep us moving.

“It would be a good point for the Government to take up.”

Glastonbury festival-goers and cricket fans face travel chaos later this month as thousands of railway workers take part in three days of strikes.

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Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) at Network Rail and 13 train operators will walk out on June 21, 23 and 25, in the biggest outbreak of industrial action in the industry in a generation.

The RMT also announced another 24-hour strike on London Underground on June 21 in a separate row over jobs and pensions.

The strikes threaten widespread travel disruption during a number of major events, including concerts, test match cricket and the Glastonbury festival.

Glastonbury starts on June 22, while that week will also see England play New Zealand in a test match in Leeds, the British athletics championships in Manchester, and gigs in London’s Hyde Park by Sir Elton John (June 24) and The Rolling Stones (June 25).

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There will also be a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London on June 24 and 25 and it is Armed Forces Day on June 25.

The union said it will be the biggest strike on the railways since 1989.

Union members voted overwhelmingly for action last month in growing rows over pay and job losses.

The RMT said rail staff who worked through the pandemic were facing pay freezes and hundreds of job cuts.

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