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More than 90% of office workers in London were forced to WFH on the first day of Mick Lynch’s rail strikes, as the RMT unleashes more travel chaos across Britain today.
The average office occupancy in the capital was just 9% on Tuesday compared with 42% per cent last week – lower even than during the peak of December’s Omicron scare.
Occupancy levels yesterday rose to 23%, according to data from technology company Freespace shared with MailOnline. Across the UK, the average occupancy was 22%, just over half of the normal rate of 40%. Before the pandemic, average office occupancy nation-wide was around 60%.
The fresh data demonstrates that militant Lynch has dealt a crippling blow to Boris Johnson’s anti-WFH drive by effectively plunging Britain back into ‘another lockdown’.
Today’s mass walkout is also likely to inflict another devastating blow to the UK’s flailing economy, with experts warning that the strike action could clobber the beleaguered hospitality sector by £500million this week alone. The Night-Time Industries Association has today warned that businesses are suffering up to 40% lost trade due to the strikes.
Comparing it to the darkest days of the Covid shutdowns, chief executive Michael Kill said: ‘Long-term strike action will lead to an irreparable loss of business and jobs, after so much hard work has been put into recovery in the last 12 months.’
This morning, King’s Cross/St Pancras, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Street station and Newcastle Central were all deserted as people were again forced to WFH.
Traffic congestion on London’s roads increased during rush hour today, and was actually higher between 8am and 9am compared to last week, at 83% between 8am and 9am this morning versus 75% during the same hour last Tuesday, according to data from traffic analyst TomTom. There were 1,930 traffic jams in London, covering a total length of 830 miles. However, it was still significantly up on 48% on Monday, the day before the industrial action began. And it was also an increase on the 52% recorded in that time slot on Tuesday last week.
Just 20% of trains are running today, with rail lines will only be open between 7.30am and 6.30pm today. Members of the drivers’ union Aslef on Greater Anglia are also striking today in a separate dispute over pay. Though Tube workers are not on strike today, this morning there are delays and part suspensions on the Bakerloo, Elizabeth and Hammersmith & City Lines and the Overground.
RMT members have gone on picket lines in cities across the country including Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester and Leeds. They were even joined by Thatcher’s arch-rival Arthur Scargill, the former boss of the National Union of Mineworkers who unleashed a series of miners strikes during the mid-1980s to prevent the closure of uneconomic pits.
Britons are now being warned to brace for potential strikes in two weeks after socialist firebrand Lynch threatened to ‘continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement’. The RMT’s National Executive Committee can announce further strike dates with just two weeks’ notice. Network Rail is expecting a decision on new strike dates to be made as early as next week. Whitehall and railway officials fear the next wave could begin on July 9 in a blow to summer holidaymakers.
Ministers fear Britain could face a summer of strikes as unions flex their muscles in pursuit of inflation-busting pay rises.
The National Education Union yesterday warned that schools could be next in line for strike action unless ministers stump up ‘inflation-plus pay increases for all teachers’. Unions representing doctors, nurses, civil servants and postal workers are also threatening industrial action over pay. Some have even demanded settlements 5% above inflation – which yesterday hit 9.1%.
It comes as the Government plots to rush forward new laws today which end the ban on using agency workers to break strikes.
Labour vowed to oppose the move last night, with deputy leader Angela Rayner describing it as a ‘recipe for disaster’.
However, Keir Starmer’s authority is ‘on the line’ after a string of Labour frontbenchers ignored the party whips and went on picket lines on Tuesday.
More than 90% of office workers in London were forced to WFH on the first day of Mick Lynch’s rail strikes. The average office occupancy in the capital was just 9% on Tuesday compared with 42% per cent last Tuesday – lower even than during the peak of December’s Omicron scare. Yesterday occupancy levels rose to 23%, according to data from tech company Freespace
KINGS CROSS: Kings Cross Station was deserted this morning as millions of commuters face a third day of chaos
BIRMINGHAM: Birmingham Grand Central station is deserted this morning on the second day of national rail strikes
MANCHESTER: An almost deserted Manchester Piccadilly station this morning on the second day of mass strikes
STRATFORD: Empty platforms at Stratford station this morning as train services are disrupted by the national strikes
NEWCASTLE: A deserted Newcastle station this morning as Mick Lynch’s RMT goes on strike
EUSTON: A single passenger looks at the departures board at Euston station in London this morning
EDINBURGH: Passengers at a quiet Edinburgh Waverley station this morning as rail workers go on strike
LIVERPOOL STREET: A railway worker checks his phone as he waits by tickets at Liverpool Street station in London today
EDINBURGH: Empty platforms at Edinburgh Waverley station this morning on the second day of national rail strikes
WESTMINSTER: Commuters cycle through Parliament Square in Westminster on their way to work today
SALFORD: A six-mile traffic jam builds along the A580 near Salford this morning
GREENWICH: Traffic queues on the A102M Blackwall Tunnel approach in Greenwich this morning
Traffic congestion on London’s roads increased during rush hour today, and was actually higher between 8am and 9am compared to last week, at 83% between 8am and 9am this morning versus 75% during the same hour last Tuesday, according to data from traffic analyst TomTom. There were 1,930 traffic jams in London, covering a total length of 830 miles
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch outside Euston station in London today as he appears on ITV’s Good Morning Britain
NEWCASTLE: RMT members outside Newcastle station as train services are disrupted by the national strikes today
MANCHESTER: RMT workers outside Manchester train station with speakerphones and pickets on the table today
RMT members join picket lines in cities across the UK including Bristol, Leeds and Nottingham this morning
PERIVALE: Heavy traffic queues on the A40 at Perivale in West London today as commuters battle to get into work
PETERBOROUGH: Trains waiting in sidings near Peterborough station on the second day of the nationwide rail strike today
AVANTI WEST COAST: The operator plans to run one train per hour on strike days from London Euston to each of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Preston, with a limited service onwards to Glasgow. The last trains will leave Euston mid-afternoon. There will be no Avanti West Coast services to North Wales, Shrewsbury, Blackpool and Edinburgh on strike days
c2c: The operator providing services for Essex will run two trains per hour from Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness via Laindon; two trains per hour from Fenchurch Street to Pitsea via Rainham; and no trains via Ockendon or Chafford Hundred
CHILTERN RAILWAYS: The service will be extremely limited on the strike days, with the following pattern expected
CROSSCOUNTRY: The network will be running a ‘significantly reduced service’ on the strike days next week as shown above
EAST MIDLANDS RAILWAY: The operator will run one train per hour between Nottingham and London, Sheffield and London, Corby and London, Derby and Matlock, Derby and Nottingham, Leicester and Nottingham and Nottingham and Sheffield
Mick Lynch’s second strike ‘lockdown’: How Britain’s trains will be hit by mass walkouts
RMT action is affecting several operators today and Saturday.
The operators running a limited service today are: Avanti West Coast, c2c, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Eurostar, Grand Central, Great Northern, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Heathrow Express, Hull Trains, LNER, London Northwestern Railway, Lumo, Northern, ScotRail, South Western Railway, Southeastern, Southern, Stansted Express, Thameslink, TransPennine Express, Transport for Greater Manchester, Transport for Wales, West Midlands Railway.
There is also a strike by Croydon Tramlink on June 28 and June 29, and on July 13 and July 14). An Aslef strike on Hull Trains on Sunday (June 26) has been called off.
And this morning, Mick Whitley, the MP for Birkenhead, joined RMT members outside Liverpool Lime Street station as he blamed the Government for the strikes. Yesterday Boris Johnson slammed Sir Keir for refusing to condemn activists staging the biggest strike for 30 years.
Frances O’Grady, head of the TUC, also slammed the anti-strike laws as ‘unworkable’. She said: ‘Bringing in less qualified agency staff to deliver important services will endanger public safety, worsen disputes and poison industrial relations.’
Elizabeth Line passengers faced fresh disruption on Thursday morning as vandalism forced the operator to close part of the track.
Commuters heading towards Shenfield will have to change at Liverpool Street for the Central Line, then back to the Elizabeth Line at Stratford to continue their journey.
‘Somebody threw something on the track between Stratford and Liverpool Street,’ one staff member said at Liverpool Street station. ‘I don’t know why, some people are just not OK.’
At Liverpool Lime Street station there were a handful of passengers waiting for trains this morning.
Just four trains were scheduled to depart from the usually busy terminal between 8.30am and 10am, two to London Euston and two to Alderley Edge in Cheshire, via Manchester.
Mr Whitley said: ‘I think every Labour MP should come out. Let’s have it right, the Labour Party was born out of the trade union movement and they are our political voice in Parliament so every Labour MP should be out.’
He said a pay deal reached with Merseyrail reinforced the argument that the Government was ‘manufacturing the dispute’.
‘We don’t want to mess up people’s travel arrangements but if you’re pushed into a corner you have got to do something,’ he added.
RMT regional council secretary Darren Pilling said the reaction to the picket line at Liverpool Lime Street station had been supportive.
He said: ‘Although we’re being told we are on our own and people don’t support our actions, people do understand exactly what this is all about because every one else is suffering just as much as we are. I stood here for eight hours on Tuesday and had nothing but support and praise from people.’
Mr Pilling said he believed the dispute could be resolved if the union was allowed to speak to managers without Government involvement.
He added: ‘I genuinely hope this is the last time we’ll be stood outside Liverpool Lime Street for a long time. I want to be going about my normal business. But, we will not meekly stand by and allow our members to be treated in such an abominable manner.’
Crowds of holidaymakers fretted about missing their flights as train delays left them stuck at London’s Liverpool Street station.
PICCADILLY CIRCUS: A quiet Piccadilly Circus in central London this morning on the second day of national strikes
CITY OF LONDON: Moorgate in the City of London is quiet as town and city centres are deserted by Mick Lynch’s strikes
BIRMINGHAM: The streets of Birmingham city centre were quiet this morning as RMT workers go on strike
SALFORD: A six-mile traffic jam builds up on the A580 near Salford this morning
WESTMINSTER: A group of cyclists pass Parliament Square in Westminster this morning on their way to work
BIRMINGHAM: Commuters clamber onto buses in Birmingham today as strikes paralyse the UK
BARNHAM: Signs at the closed Barnham train station in West Sussex this morning
BIRMINGHAM: Busy roads as commuters drive into Birmingham city centre today on the second day of rail strikes
PERIVALE: As the second day of rail strikes gets underway, heavy traffic is pictured on all three lanes on the A40
NEWCASTLE: Empty platforms at Newcastle station this morning as RMT workers across Britain go on strike
PETERBOROUGH: Freight trains beside the East Coast main lines in Peterborough today
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY: On strike days, a limited service will operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm on the green routes
GREATER ANGLIA: The normal route map for Greater Anglia is pictured. The network will be running a much-reduced service
HULL TRAINS: The operator will only be running between Doncaster and London King’s Cross on the three strike days
LNER: The operator says it will be running only 38 per cent of its usual trains, with the last from London to Edinburgh at 2pm
LONDON NORTHWESTERN RAILWAY: The strike will have a significant impact on travel. Normal services are shown above
NORTHERN RAIL: Only a fraction of the Northern Rail network will run on strike days. The full normal route map is pictured
SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY: There will be no trains beyond Southampton to Weymouth; or beyond Basingstoke to Exeter
LONDON — This Transport for London map shows greyed-out lines for those that will be affected by disruption on Tuesday all day, and Wednesday morning. ‘Severe disruption or no service’ is expected on all Tube lines from the start of Tuesday until at least 8am on Wednesday. Only the Croydon Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway are shown as running normally
SOUTHEASTERN – Limited services set to run between London, Kent and East Sussex next week on June 21, 23 and 25
WEST MIDLANDS RAILWAY: The operator says the strike will have ‘considerable impact’. Its normal route map is shown above
TRANSPORT FOR WALES: Almost the entire Transport for Wales network (shown above) will be closed during the strike days
SCOTRAIL: This map shows the normal network run by ScotRail. Only five lines will be able to run on strike days
GREAT NORTHERN, GATWICK EXPRESS, SOUTHERN AND THAMESLINK: This map from Govia Thameslink Railway shows the trains expected to operate on its network during strike action next week on June 21, 23 and 25 – a fraction of normal services
Class war! Now teachers threaten chaos for pupils over pay demands
Teachers yesterday threatened to ballot for nationwide strikes unless they get an ‘inflation-plus’ pay rise this year.
The Left-wing National Education Union declared it will mobilise its 450,000 members in the autumn.
But Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said last night: ‘We have proposed the highest pay awards in a generation for new teachers – 16.7 per cent over the next two years – alongside further pay awards for more experienced teachers.
‘Young people have suffered more disruption to their education than any generation that’s gone before, and it’s the vital work of teachers that is helping them get back on track.’
The threatened action could force some schools to close or keep year-groups at home, causing chaos for working parents who will have to find childcare. Struggling pupils are still catching up on work they missed during the months of lockdown.
The Education Secretary said such a move would be ‘irresponsible’ in the wake of the upheaval to children’s learning caused by the pandemic.
He wrote in The Daily Telegraph: ‘Young people have suffered more disruption than any generation that’s gone before them and to compound that now, as recovery is in full swing and families are thinking about their next big step following school or college, would be unforgivable.’
It is understood the NEU will be lobbying for a pay rise of up to 12 per cent for all teachers. The union rejects a suggested 3 per cent rise.
Last night, critics said pupils’ education had already suffered too much in the pandemic. Molly Kingsley of parent group UsForThem said: ‘It’s time for bickering adults to get a grip and focus on the pupils who have already lost so much school time over the last two years.’
The Stansted Express normally leaves twice an hour from Britain’s third-busiest station, but strike action has reduced this down to one.
One man, who was returning to Sofia in Bulgaria after three days in London, complained in broken English that the experience was ‘stressful’.
Asked how much longer he expected to wait, the man – who had been stranded at the station for half an hour – said: ‘I don’t know, I’m just looking at the board, I hope not too long.I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating because I’m here on holidays, but it’s a bit stressful’.
RMT negotiators last night stormed out of talks to avert today’s strikes after Network Rail wrote a letter saying it was going ahead with 1,800 staff cuts.
The union, which is striking over jobs and pay, said it would not get back around the table unless the letter was withdrawn, sparking a furious stand-off. It means another 24-hour walkout on the railways will go ahead today, with another on Saturday looking almost certain.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch took aim at the Transport Secretary, saying: ‘Grant Shapps has wrecked these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw their letter threatening redundancy for… our members.
‘Until the Government unshackles Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.’
Mr Shapps branded Lynch a liar and called on the union to ‘stop wasting time’ and get back to the negotiating table.
The row came as it emerged the RMT was informally offered a rise of more than 3 per cent in return for modernised work practices.
Rail chiefs have accused union barons of holding the country to ransom over ‘archaic’ methods which see up to nine engineers sent just to ‘change a plug socket’.
Commuters faced more misery yesterday as union tactics meant only 60 per cent of services were able to run because of the knock-on from Tuesday’s strikes.
Huge crowds built up outside Tube and rail stations, with some opening as late as 8.30am during rush hour. Network Rail signallers and control room staff who would usually have worked overnight to make sure trains left on time yesterday missed their shifts after taking part in Tuesday’s strike.
Secondary legislation to scrap the ban on agency workers will be introduced today and is expected to take effect next month. Government sources acknowledge that some skilled roles, such as railway signallers, will be impossible to replace.
But they believe other vital roles, such as train dispatchers, could be carried out by agency staff.
Like Tuesday’s walkout, under a fifth of trains will run today and only for 11 hours. Up to 50% of services will run on key inter-city routes.
Meanwhile, members of the drivers’ union Aslef on Greater Anglia will strike on Thursday in a separate dispute over pay.
The company, which is also affected by the RMT strike, advised passengers to travel only if it was necessary.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) announced that its members at Merseyrail had accepted a 7.1% pay offer.
General secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘What this clearly shows is our union, and sister unions, are in no way a block on finding the solutions needed to avoid a summer of discontent on the railways.
‘Rather, it is the Government who are intent on digging in their heels. Grant Shapps would be wise to start talking seriously to our union as we ballot for industrial action on our railways up and down the land.’
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson: ‘With passenger numbers still at only 80% of pre-pandemic levels the industry remains committed to giving a fair deal on pay while taking no more than its fair share from taxpayers.
‘We can only achieve that by making improvements – like offering better services on a Sunday – that reflect the changing needs of passengers so we can attract more back.
‘We call on the RMT leadership to continue to talk so that we can secure a thriving long-term future for the railway and its workforce.
‘Our advice to passengers remains the same, only travel by rail if absolutely necessary, check before you travel and make sure you know the time of your first and last trains.’
A Network Rail spokesperson said: ‘We are disappointed that the RMT have again chosen to walk away from negotiations without agreeing a deal. We remain available for talks – day or night – and will do everything we can to avoid further disruption for our passengers.
‘As a result of this needless and premature strike, rail services will look much like they did on Tuesday – starting later in the morning and finishing much earlier in the evening (around 6.30pm).
‘We are asking passengers to please check before you travel, be conscious of when your last available train is departing, and only travel by train if necessary.’