Boris Johnson will condemn the unions for what is expected to be the biggest train strike in three decades.
Around 40,000 members of Network Rail’s Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and 13 rail operators will come out for all of Tuesday, as well as Thursday and Saturday in a dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.
Only one in five trains will run on strike days, mostly on main lines, and only for about 11 hours.
Network Rail has warned that industrial action will lead six days of disruption due to the ripple effect on services on the intermediate days.
Ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Prime Minister will argue that unions are ‘harming the very people they claim to help’ and call for a ‘reasonable compromise’.
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There will also be a strike on the London Underground on Tuesday by union members RMT and Unite, in a separate row, which will lead to major disruption on the Tube.
Talks to avoid the railway strike took place until Monday afternoon, but remained unresolved – with both sides blaming each other for the lack of a breakthrough.
The RMT union is demanding a 7% wage increase, which is lower than inflation but higher than that proposed by the employers.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the dispute could drag on for months, adding: ‘It is clear that the Conservative Government, having cut £4bn of National Rail and Transport funding for London, has now actively prevented a settlement of this dispute.
“Railway companies have now offered pay rates that are massively below relevant inflation rates, on top of wage freezes in recent years.
“At the request of the government, the companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have given no guarantees against forced layoffs.
The prime minister is expected to accuse unions of ‘scaring away commuters who ultimately support railway workers’ jobs’ while hitting businesses across the country.
He will say: “Too high salary demands will also make it incredibly difficult to solve the current challenges facing families around the world with the rising cost of living.
“Now is the time to reach a reasonable compromise for the good of the British people and the railway workforce.”
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Downing Street said ministers at Tuesday’s meeting would discuss the railway strikes as well as the difficult economic climate facing the country.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak and the Prime Minister are expected to argue that wage discipline and moderation are important to manage downward inflationary pressures.
“We have a responsibility to fight inflation and prevent it from taking root,” Number 10 said.
“To do that, we need to make sure wage deals are reasonable and don’t jostle to match inflation, and therefore drive prices up as the cost of goods and services rises to incorporate increases in salary.”
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson said: “It’s right that we reward our hard-working public sector workers with a pay rise, but it has to be proportionate and balanced.
“Higher and sustained levels of inflation would have a much bigger impact on people’s wages in the long run, destroying savings and prolonging the difficulties we face for longer.”
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