Strikes to hit fes­tive build-up

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

THE run-up to Christ­mas is set to be hit by a wave of strikes by the rail, post and air­line in­dus­tries are to be launched by thou­sands of work­ers this week, which may af­fect travel plans.

A se­ries of dis­putes have flared over is­sues in­clud­ing jobs, pay, pen­sions and safety in­volv­ing some of the coun­try’s big­gest trade unions.

Of­fi­cials dis­missed any sugges­tions that the strikes were co-or­di­nated or part of a con­spir­acy to bring down the Gov­ern­ment.

Mem­bers of the Rail, Mar­itime and Transport union at South­ern Rail­way wemt on strike on Mon­day and Tues­day in a long-run­ning dis­pute over the role of con­duc­tors.

Cou­pled with a con­tin­u­ing ban on over­time by driv­ers in Aslef, the ac­tion caused fresh chaos for South­ern’s 300,000 pas­sen­gers.

Mem­bers of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Work­ers Union will strike for five days, in­clud­ing Christ­mas Eve, in protest at job losses, the clo­sure of a fi­nal salary pen­sion scheme and the fran­chis­ing of Crown Post Offices.

The union staged a demon­stra­tion out­side the head­quar­ters of the Busi­ness De­part­ment on Mon­day at the start of the strikes.

British Air­ways cabin crew in the Unite union are due to strike on Christ­mas Day and Box­ing Day in a row over pay although talks aimed at re­solv­ing the dis­pute will be held at Acas on Mon­day.

Unite mem­bers em­ployed by Swis­s­port as baggage han­dlers and other ground staff at 18 air­ports are set to walk out on Fri­day and Satur­day over pay un­less Tues­day’s talks at the con­cil­i­a­tion ser­vice bring a deal.

RMT gen­eral sec­re­tary Mick Cash told the Press As­so­ci­a­tion: “We are a se­ri­ous trade union deal­ing with se­ri­ous is­sues around safety on the rail­ways. That is our ab­so­lute pri­or­ity.

“RMT is not party to any Trot­sky­ist con­spir­acy to bring down the Gov­ern­ment. Our con­duc­tor mem­bers on South­ern are on strike this week in de­fence of the safety of the trav­el­ling pub­lic and that re­mains the fo­cus of the en­tire union.”

South­ern was ac­cused of can­celling trains and blam­ing in­dus­trial ac­tion even though driv­ers were avail­able, for the se­cond week­end in a row. The com­pany de­nied Aslef ’s claim.

The CWU said hun­dreds of Crown Post Offices will be hit by its in­dus­trial in­volv­ing around work­ers.

Gen­eral sec­re­tary Dave Ward ac­cused the man­age­ment of re­ject­ing a peace of­fer and warned of a con­tin­u­ing clo­sure pro­gramme which would mean that the Post Of­fice will cease to ex­ist on high streets.

Kevin Gilliland, Post Of­fice, group net­work and sales di­rec­tor, said: “Any ac­tion will af­fect fewer than 300 of our branches, and many of these will be open to main­tain ser­vices for cus­tomers pre­par­ing for Christ­mas.

“We are dis­ap­pointed that, whilst we’ve been hold­ing dis­cus­sions with the union through­out this week and have made it clear we re­main open to fur­ther, for­mal talks at the most se­nior level, they are con­tin­u­ing to cause con­cern to cus­tomers dur­ing the fes­tive sea­son.”

The strikes do not in­volve Royal Mail em­ploy­ees although the Daily Tele­graph re­ported that some Royal Mail staff may refuse to cross picket lines to col­lect mail from post offices.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “There will be lit­tle or no im­pact on Royal Mail as a re­sult of the CWU strike at the Post Of­fice. De­liv­er­ies will carry on as normal and the last post­ing dates for Christ­mas re­main un­changed.” ac­tion, 3,500

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