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UK braces for travel havoc as nationwide train strikes begin

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: Passengers walk along platforms to board the limited running services as Rail workers continue their strike over pay, job, security and working conditions in London, United Kingdom, on January 03, 2023. (Raşid Necati Aslım - Anadolu Agency)
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Jan 04, 2023 - 06:07 AM

LONDON (AA) – Tens of thousands of members of the UK’s biggest rail union walked out on Tuesday, the first day in a series of protests that is expected to cripple rail services and cause travel chaos across the country.

Some 40,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 14 train operators kicked off a 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday.

After a break on Thursday, another 48-hour strike will be staged on Friday and Saturday.

Rail services made announcements early on Tuesday, urging passengers to only travel if necessary.

In a statement, the RMT said it decided to strike again because, despite its “best efforts” over the Christmas period, rail employers have not held any negotiations over the union’s demands for better pay and working conditions.

“The government is blocking the union’s attempts to reach a negotiated settlement with the rail employers,” said Mick Lynch, head of the UK’s largest rail union.

He warned that the industrial action could continue beyond May.

In addition to the RMT, National Highways workers are also striking on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a tweet, Labour Party MP Beth Winter voiced support for the RMT strike, accusing the government of “waging war on the railways with cuts after cuts.”

“It is the RMT union who are fighting back,” she said.

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