RMT announces four day rail strike starting 6th April

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has announced a four day rail strike starting on Tuesday 6th April (the day after the Easter bank holiday weekend).

The rail strike if it goes ahead will be the first national rail strike for 16 years and has been timed to not only affect millions of holidaymakers as they return home from the Easter break and millions of commuters as they return to work, but also embarrass the Government on the day that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is expected to visit the Queen to ask her to dissolve Parliament ready for a General Election on 6th May.

RMT union bosses claimed that they would close down the rail network with a series of rush-hour walkouts. The union plans to tell its 5,800 signal workers to strike from 6am to 10am and 6pm to 10pm each day, effectively canceling the rush hour on all four days. With rail maintenance workers also expected to be on strike, and the disruption caused by trains and train crews being in the wrong places, the industrial action would severely restrict rail services throughout the whole of the four day period.

Overtime and rest-day working will also be banned by the unions for the duration of the industrial dispute.

The unions are fighting plans to cut 50 signalling jobs, 1,500 maintenance jobs and alter working hours, amid claims that the changes could compromise safety.

Signal workers in South Wales and New Cross, London, earning an average of £50,000 a year, are facing redundancies, and Network Rail wants to spread the 36-hour working week over four days rather than three.

The RMT members are expected to be joined by 2,000 managers represented by the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), who will also strike from 6am on Tuesday April 6 to midnight on Thursday, April 9.

Three out of four trains are expected to be brought to a halt during the evening and morning rush hours, when around 2.5 million people normally travel by train.

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT, claimed that the strike dates had been chosen to avoid disruption to travellers over the Easter holiday weekend. But Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, said last night: "A strike is in no one’s interests and could cause serious disruption to passengers."

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