The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) union has blamed the government for failing to stop the strike action this Christmas.
Ministers have urged Rail union chief Mick Lynch not to “hold the country to ransom” with strikes which could damage retail sales and stop Christmas for many who rely on trains to meet with family and friends over the festive period.
Lynch has said that there will be a lot of disruption as RMT members will strike on Christmas Eve and again from 6pm to 6am on 27 December along with two 48 hour walkouts next week.
Government minister Nick Gibb insists that they offered a “very good pay deal” of 8% over two years and he said the RMT’s strike action is “very disappointing decision.”
Gibb told GB News, “So I think the unions really should call off this strike.
“It’s inconveniencing people up and down the country in the run up to Christmas, I think it’s a very poor way of conducting negotiations.
“We would urge the unions to talk to employers, to keep negotiating and not to hold the country to ransom, particularly in December as we get nearer to Christmas.”
Lynch told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “We regret the inconvenience that we are causing but this inconvenience is being caused by the Government who are running the playbook and the strategy for the companies and directing what’s going on.
“They’ve held back even these paltry offers to the last minute so they know it’s very difficult to deal with these offers.”
The RMT chief was asked if there will be disruption earlier amid the strike action, Lynch said, “yes there will be.
“They will run up until the evening time.
“We don’t want this to happen at Christmas.
“If we don’t respond they will just assume the dispute is over and they’ve got their way so we have to respond to that.
“I hope the companies change their positions before the action takes place on December 13 and we can cancel the action – but I’ve been hoping for that all the summer.”
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told BBC Breakfast, “This is a militant Government that is not dealing with the issues and not resolving this strike action and it’s frustrating.
“The system is absolutely crumbling without the strikes. Anyone who gets on a train now in the North knows that you’re praying if you’re going to get to where you need to get to. Many businesses are now losing staff because they can’t get to work.
“It’s a complete shambles of the Government’s making and they really need to get off their hands and resolve this.
“When I speak to the trade unions they’re very clear they do not want to go on strike, they want to resolve this dispute, it’s this Government that seems to want to ratchet it up and want to attack workers rights and cause this disruption.”