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When and why are Rail Workers Striking?

Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming strikes and why they are so important.

Members of the The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers across Network Rail and 14 other train companies are set to strike.

When are the strikes?

The strikes begin tomorrow, they take place December 13, 14, 16 and January 3, 4, 6, and 7.

More strikes have also been announced over Christmas time. These take place from 18:00 on Saturday 24 December until 06:00 on Tuesday 27 December 2022.

How many are striking?

These strikes involve up to 40,000 staff, and will greatly disrupt Christmas travelling as students, workers, and those living away from home attempt to travel back in time for the big day.

Why are the strikes happening?

Strikes impact many people. Rail strikes cause travel disruptions, nurse strikes lead to cancelled appointments and teaching strikes impact education.

However, despite how inconvenient strikes may seem to the ordinary person, it is critical that we consider what leads a person to strike.

Strikes can lead to a loss of pay, detrimentally impacting workers that are the sole breadwinner of their families during the Christmas period, or indeed anyone already experiencing inadequate income.

Therefore, workers would not strike if they felt they had another choice.

Unions (groups that represent workers in a specific industry), have been in disputes with the government and hierarchical bodies (CEOs and executives) in the transport industry for the large majority of this year.

These disputes particularly regard working conditions, pensions, and pay. Workers are struggling to make ends meet, with the cost of living rising faster than their wages.

When unions fail to strike a deal to aid their cause, or remedies proposed do not go far enough, they ask their members whether they would like to take industrial action - go on strike.

Industrial measures can also include overtime bans- another measure being enacted by the RMT from December 18 to January 2.

This means train companies may face short-notice cancellations and alterations in timetables during this time.

What do workers do while they strike?

As tempting as it might seem, workers don’t just sit at home and do nothing during this time. Strikes and industrial action are designed to invoke change and intervention.

2022 has seen eight Royal Mail strikes since August. During which, postal workers and strike action protesters gathered outside the Royal Mail sorting office in Mount Pleasant.

These protests can often evolve into large public spectacles, which help to bring attention to their cause, and rally public support.

With that in mind, how can people support those choosing to go on strike?

You can help by writing to your local MP and requesting that they bring this issue up in the House of Commons, sign petitions, and generally raise awareness.

The same goes for any issues and strikes taking place.

You can also show support by joining protests and, if you are able to, by bringing food parcels to enable them to continue to feed themselves and their families.

The best way to find out how to support industry workers is to visit their union website(s).

I know the strikes are disruptive. We all know. Let’s count ourselves lucky that we aren’t the ones experiencing them firsthand.

Remember, strikes cease when action begins.

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