Hundreds of train journeys are set to be disrupted in Bristol after the latest wave of a long-standing dispute between RMT (Railway, Maritime and Transport) union and Network Rail sparked further strike action in November. Rail workers will once again walk out of Bristol Temple Meads and stations all over the UK over unresolved issues surrounding pay, job security and working conditions as the country heads into winter.
According to the RMT, there was an understanding that Network Rail would commit to a better compensation offer and work toward a negotiated settlement. But the company “reneged on their promises of an improved pay offer” and sought to “impose job cuts, more unsocial hours and detrimental changes to rosters” in what the union branded a “dramatic u-turn”.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: "On the one hand they (Network Rail) were telling our negotiators that they were prepared to do a deal, while planning to torpedo negotiations by imposing unacceptable changes to our members’ terms and conditions. Our members are livid with these duplicitous tactics, and they will now respond in kind with sustained strike action."
In response, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, said: "A two-year 8% deal, with discounted travel and a new extended job guarantee to January 2025, is on the table ready to be put to our staff. Unfortunately, the leadership of the RMT seem intent on more damaging strikes rather than giving their members a vote on our offer."
So, how will services to and from Bristol be affected? Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming rail strikes.
When will the round of rail strikes take place?
The new round of industrial action by the RMT is set to take place in Bristol and across the UK on November 3, 5 and 7. RMT staff will also strike on November 3 in a separate dispute with London Underground and Overground networks (Arriva Rail London).
RMT members who are train managers on Avanti West Coast will walk out on Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, November 6. In Scotland, ScotRail RMT members will also walk out for 24 hours on Saturday, October 29.
What happens on non-strike days in between?
The three days of industrial action will affect rail travel from November 3 - November 8. This is because early trains will be affected the day after each strike, with around 75% of services operating on November 4, 6, and 8. Since many people who had wanted to travel on strike-affected days will be looking to reschedule their travel, these days are probably going to be busy.
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What services will be affected by the RMT rail strikes in Bristol?
Great Western Railway has received formal notification from the RMT about its intention to take industrial action on Thursday 3, Saturday 5 and Monday, November 7. GWR, who operates trains in and out of Bristol Temple Meads, said: “On these days train services will be severely disrupted and some parts of the GWE network will have no train services at all.
“Train services on the days following the industrial action will also be disrupted. On strike day an extremely limited service will operate between 7.30am and 6.30pm, and the last trains will leave much earlier. Where we are able to run services they are expected to be extremely busy, and we are not able to provide bus replacement services.
The GWR added that online journey planners will be updated with the latest timetable information as soon as possible, and that passengers are advised to find alternative ways to travel on these days. “Only travel by train if absolutely necessary,” the network said. “A significant number of train services will not operate and there will be no services on some routes.
Customers who have already purchased tickets for striKe days can claim a full refund or amend their ticket on the GWR website. Passengers who travel and are delayed may be entitled to a ‘delay repay’ compensation if they are delayed by 15 minutes or more. Season ticket holders can apply for confirmation through the ‘delay repay’ scheme.
Who is involved in the pay dispute?
There are actually dozens of individual disputes involving many employers. They include Network Rail – the infrastructure provider, running the tracks, signalling and some large stations and more than a dozen train operators, who are contracted by the Department for Transport (DfT) to run a specified schedule of services.
There are four unions who are involved in the ongoing negotiations. They are, RMT, the main rail union, Aslef, representing train drivers, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), the union for white-collar staff in the transport industry and Unite, representing some grades in some train operators.