Rail and postal workers gather as major strike action gets under way

Postal workers are beginning 19 days of strike action and rail services are severely disrupted.

Aslef, RMT, and CWU rail and postal workers gather as major strike action gets under way in Scotland STV News

Hundreds turned out in Edinburgh and Glasgow on Saturday as they came together to show their support for striking rail and postal workers.

Members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) walked out on Saturday in a pay dispute.

Network Rail workers who are members of RMT began the first of two 24-hour walkouts on Saturday and will do so again on Saturday October 8.

It meant that ScotRail passengers faced disruption across the network as just a handful of services across the central belt and east coast were running.

Only 20% of ScotRail services are operating between 7:30am and 6.30pm in the central belt, Borders and Fife – with no trains running elsewhere on the network.

The rail provider had issued a warning to customers telling them to expect significant disruption as a result of the strike action.

David Simpson, ScotRail service delivery director, said the knock-on effects of the industrial action would impact services on both Sunday October 2 and Sunday October 9 as well.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Despite our best efforts to compromise and find a breakthrough in talks, rail unions remain intent on continuing and co-ordinating their strike action.

“This serves only to ensure our staff forgo even more of their pay unnecessarily, as well as causing even more disruption for our passengers and further damaging the railway’s recovery from the pandemic.

“Passengers who want to travel this Saturday, and indeed next Wednesday and next Saturday, are asked only to do so if absolutely necessary.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Transport workers are joining a wave of strike action on October 1, sending a clear message to the government and employers that working people will not accept continued attacks on pay and working conditions at a time when big business profits are at an all-time high.

“The Summer of Solidarity we have seen will continue into the Autumn and Winter if employers and the government continue to refuse workers reasonable demands.

“We want a settlement to these disputes where our members and their families can get a square deal. And we will not rest until we get a satisfactory outcome.”

Meanwhile, postal workers from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) also walked out on Saturday.

It follows an ongoing dispute over changes in working terms and conditions.

The union claims that Royal Mail is asking postal workers to trade terms and conditions for a pay rise.

Workers are taking part in 19 days of strike action which is expected to have a “dramatic impact”, according to the union, and will cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas build-up.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward urged people across the country to “stand with” their local postal worker.

“This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them,” said Ward.

“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid.

“These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.

“Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.

“We call on everyone to stand with their local postal worker.

“If Royal Mail Group are allowed to get away with this then it sends a green light to every rogue big business in the UK.

“We will not stand by and see the Royal Mail Group become the next P&O but we need your backing to win.”

Royal Mail insists the strike is a “reckless pursuit” and say they are managing the disruption.

A spokesperson said: “The CWU can be in no doubt of the impact its reckless pursuit of 19 days of industrial action has on our weakened financial position and the job security of its members.

“Royal Mail is losing £1m a day. We operate in a competitive market and our customers have choices. Continued strike action will force our customers to make those choices sooner rather than later.

“Our invitation to enter into talks through Acas remains open. Our people need the CWU leadership to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business, and to engage urgently on the changes required to adapt to customer demands in a highly competitive market.

“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause.”

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