Railway workers alongside members from the London United bus routes stage a walkout that will further disrupt travel plans for many on the weekend.

In June, a mass walkout by members of the RMT union caused one of the UK’s largest rail strikes in 30 years.
In June, a mass walkout by members of the RMT union caused one of the UK’s largest rail strikes in 30 years. (Reuters)

Thousands of workers across the UK have begun a four-day strike due to long-running disputes over working conditions and unfair pay.

Workers taking part in the industrial action that began on Thursday are largely from Network Rail, Transport for London, London Buses and other transport services and are members of a number of unions including the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Unite unions.

"Network Rail have not made any improvement on their previous pay offer and the train operating companies have not offered us anything new," RMT head Mike Lynch said.

Commuters across the country, including the capital London, will face disruptions as services on trains, buses and the underground will be ground to a halt.

In addition to Thursday’s industrial action, members of the RMT and Unite unions will walk out of London Underground subway stations and bus depots on Friday in a separate dispute over pay.

On Saturday, railway workers including train drivers, conductors and platform staff alongside members from the London United bus routes will stage a walkout that will further disrupt travel plans for many on the weekend. 

'Unnecessary disruptions to commuters'

"Subway bosses are having secret negotiations with the government about cutting costs by slashing jobs and undermining working conditions and pensions,” RMT head Lynch said.

He added that “Network Rail is also threatening to impose compulsory redundancies and unsafe 50 percent cuts to maintenance work if we did not withdraw strike action. The train operating companies have put driver-only operations on the table along with ransacking our members’ terms and conditions.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps condemned the mass industrial action and blamed its participants for causing unnecessary disruptions to millions of commuters who rely on the country’s transport services to go to work and visit family and friends. 

"It’s clear, from their coordinated approach, that the unions are hell-bent on causing as much misery as possible to the very same taxpayers who stumped up £600 ($723) per household to ensure not a single rail worker lost their job during the pandemic," Shapps said.

Unions leading the mass strike argue that their workers are being severely affected by the cost-of-living crisis with inflation reaching a high of 10 percent and a drop in real wages. Furthermore, poor working conditions endanger their lives.

In June, a mass walkout by members of the RMT union caused one of the UK’s largest rail strikes in 30 years.

READ MORE: Britons to face biggest rail strike in 30 years after talks fail

Source: TRTWorld and agencies