Train strikes cause transportation disruption in Leicester

By Christy Au

CLOSED: A poster about the strike was stuck on Leicester Station’s door

A four-day rail strike running in the UK since last Wednesday again caused widespread disruption, with the RMT and several other unions taking part.

The dispute between the government, the rail companies, and the unions led to the strike over better pay demands, disputes over redundancies and more. 

Network Rail offered an eight per cent pay rise over two years. However the workers’ representatives, RMT, voted not to accept the plan and said it was a ‘paltry sum’ that also represented a real term pay cut.

The RMT also emphasised that the 2,500 maintenance jobs which bosses want to eliminate in the future, are ‘safety critical’.

The Aslef union, which represents the train drivers, is also fighting for the members who have not had a salaries increment since 2019. The TSSA union is on the side of supporting voluntary redundancies, and keeping the original terms and conditions.  

The strike disrupted most of the main cities in the UK. In Leicester, one of the biggest train lines, East Midlands Railway, provided no service on the first day of the strike.

The one and only train station was shutdown, doors were locked, and neither staff nor passengers were allowed in the building.

EMPTY: No trains, no passengers, no staff in or outside Leicester Station

In Birmingham, not only passengers but also the owners of restaurants reported experiencing a massive impact brought by the strike. April Richmond told the BBC it usually took her 30 minutes to travel to Birmingham, but that day it took her two hours to go to work. 

“I feel like I don’t understand enough about why they’re striking, but it’s definitely making a massive impact, so I hope they get it sorted soon,” she said. 

The co-owner of Tiger Bites Pig restaurant in Birmingham, Neil McGougan, said although he supported the strike, he might face a decline in turnover. 

“I can moan about it from a business point of view, but I understand why they’re doing it,” he told the BBC. 

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan told the BBC she hopes the unions and the operators “come together and find something that we can all live with.

“Nothing is ever perfect, negotiations are compromises, but what we need is for our customers, our passengers to be at the centre of everyone’s decision making,” she added.

After meeting with the leaders of the RMT and Aslef unions, she said she is going to meet the train companies in the next few weeks.