Mick Lynch 'not ruling out' further strike action as rail services crippled by latest walkout

During the week many commuters may have had the choice to work from home, but at the weekend, when many had plans such as concerts to attend, avoiding travel wasn't an option for some, as Ian Woods reports

RMT union boss Mick Lynch has said further industrial action has not been ruled out, as train services were crippled by another 24 hour rail strike.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out on Saturday for the third time this week, with little sign of a breakthrough in discussions between the union and rail operators.

Mr Lynch, who joined workers on a picket line outside Euston Station on Saturday, called on Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to "get on with his job” and enter into "constructive" talks with the unions settle the bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Only a fifth of services were running on Saturday, and half of lines closed, with operators telling passengers they should only travel by train if necessary and to check their journey in advance.

Network Rail said a ‘very limited’ timetable will be available across the country on the strike day Credit: Ashlee Ruggels/PA

“We’re not ruling out strikes but we have not put down any dates for any strike action," Mr Lynch said, adding "we’re all going to get together the leadership of the union and see where we are."

The union boss went on to say RMT would "continue working constructively with the companies to strike a deal," but said "that is a really steep challenge at the moment because of the agenda they've got and the effects they want on our members."

“Strike action’s not ruled out and it will have to take place if we do not get a deal, but we’re hoping that we can get a deal and we get some compromise."

Mr Lynch also hit out at the government, saying many ministers have “never done a hand’s turn."

Mick Lynch joined the picket line at Euston Station in central London on Saturday. Credit: Sarah Collier/PA

“It’s quite odd. The people who are running this country are brought up on a diet of Latin and Greek and our members are brought up on a diet of getting up at ungodly times to run the transport system. I think there’s a bit of disconnect there.

“If we had people who were used to doing work we might get a better deal out of them," he added.

Twitter row

Grant Shapps was accused by Mr Lynch of "talking nonsense" in a series of tweets about the rail strikes on Saturday.

In the tweets, the transport secretary said the industry's working practices “aren’t just archaic, they are hugely damaging to commuters’ daily lives and the economy, causing people to be late for work or miss hospital appointments."

In one of the tweets, he said “Sunday working laws” had not been updated since 1919, meaning that for some train companies, “Sundays aren’t part of the working week and they have to rely on the ‘good will’ of employees to work them."

Mr Shapps also criticised maintenance laws, saying that “the rostering of individuals or training of multiskilled workers isn’t allowed.

“It means for a job that could, in theory, be completed by one person, whole teams have to be sent. Even worse, these teams won’t share vans or equipment either.”

Responding to the tweets, Mr Lynch accused Mr Shapps of being “completely ignorant of how the railways work."

He described Mr Shapps’ statement that Sunday working practices had not been updated since 1919 as “false," adding: “In many companies we have agreements that Sunday forms part of the working week.”

He also described the allegation that teams do not share vans as an “utter fallacy."

We could be looking at a 'summer of discontent,' with a series of industrial disputes due to below-inflation-pay-offers, reports Ian woods

Ed Sheeran fans forced to pay for parking at concert due to lack of trains

Concertgoers hoping to travel by car to Wembley Stadium for Ed Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour on Saturday faced paying up to £231 for a rented parking space for the evening, as the rail strike forced fans to drive to the event.

Karen and Amanda Pollecutt, sisters from Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex, were originally hoping to catch a Southern train to central London for the gig.

Upon realising the strike would affect their journey, they planned to drive straight to the Wembley stadium, but found all five of the nearby car parks were fully booked up, as were all the surrounding hotels.

Karen said: “We were looking at car parking, they were fully booked. We tried five around here. And then there was a website where you could park on someone’s drive and they wanted £231. And it was like, we like Ed Sheeran, but not that much!”

Amanda said they only started to look at alternative means of travelling to the concert last week because “we hoped the strikes would be cancelled, but of course that’s not the case."

They decided to leave the car in Uxbridge, west London, where the pair used to live, and get a train to Wembley, but are concerned about getting home as they say the line will close early.

“I suppose we’re going to have to leave a bit earlier to have a bit of a fighting chance,” Karen said.

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