More strike misery: TSSA says six further train companies will strike over jobs, pay and conditions

Strikes will grind railways to a halt  (PA)
Strikes will grind railways to a halt (PA)

TSSA has served notice for strikes in a further six train operating companies and Network Rail just hours after meetings with a government minister in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) union said thousands of its members will walk out on December 17 alongside a campaign of other forms of industrial action across a dozen companies.

Further industrial action over the Christmas and new year period is being actively considered, the TSSA said.

The TSSA has already announced strikes on December 17 at Avanti West Coast and c2c.

But the latest move affects Cross Country, East Midlands Railway, some Network Rail staff, Southeastern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

The notice of strike action follows four weeks of intensive talks which the union said failed to produce a written offer on pay and conditions from industry bodies.

The notification comes just hours after the union, along with the RMT union, held separate talks with rail minister Huw Merriman.

Luke Chester, TSSA organising director, said: "Our members are fed up of being treated with contempt by employers and government alike.

“We've sat through hundreds of hours of talks and have moved mountains to make progress on modernisation details, staffing and jobs.

“But still there is no offer in writing and nothing whatsoever on pay, despite inflation biting our members hard.

“We understand it is only the Government withholding authority that's standing in the way of an offer being put in writing. If strikes go ahead this Christmas, the blame lies entirely with the Tory Government.

“This strike action is an exasperated last resort but unless there's an offer made it won't be the last. It's meant to be the season of goodwill but there's very little being shown by the Government and it's running out fast on our side."

Members of the union working in a variety of management and operational and support roles will be involved in the strike on December 17.

The union also announced Friday it would ballot its members on the Elizabeth line for strike action in a dispute over pay. It is not yet clear when a strike, if approved by members, would take place.

The Unite union also said its members employed by Network Rail in electric control rooms will join workers at other rail unions in taking industrial action.

Their members will strike on six days in December and three in January.

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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: "It is totally unforgivable that the Government thinks it is acceptable to implement a three-year pay freeze on our members who play a critical role in keeping the rail network operating.

"That this is occurring during the worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory doubles the injustice our members are experiencing."

Mr Merriman said: “This morning's meeting with the RMT, Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group was a constructive and open conversation about the challenges facing our railways.

“I was clear that the parties should work towards creating a modern and financially sustainable railway which provides value for money for all passengers and taxpayers.

“Everyone agreed to continue talking to try and resolve these long-standing issues and bring an end to this dispute."