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New wave of strikes cripple UK public transportation


A new round of walkouts by public transportation workers has hit the UK, following the government of Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure in addressing long-running contract disputes and job security concerns.

The industrial action began on Sunday, when workers with the London Underground staged a 24-hour strike by closing subway stations in the central parts of the capital.

London’s suburbs and the southeast are also braced for serious disruption as train drivers, represented by the Aslef union, will strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday to protest job cuts.

This is while workers with the Southern train operator would also begin their three-day walkout on Tuesday, two days after the failure of Sunday’s last-minute talks to reach a solution.

Also on Tuesday, British Airways flights will be disrupted by a cabin crew strike, further plunging the public transportation system into chaos on the first full-working week of 2017.

The wave of strikes may take a new spin on Tuesday, when the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union ballots its members at Arriva Rail North, which runs the Northern trains, on a possible walkout over inadequate pay, according to The Sunday Times.

Another wave of strikes is expected over the coming weeks due to the introduction of new trains on the Merseyrail network and West Midlands franchise, which could lead to a standoff between unions over the role of conductors.

This is the very reason behind the Southern walkouts, which began after a six-month dispute between Southern Railway and the RMT union over the roles of Southern’s conductors.

Southern, whose trains link parts of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire with London, is introducing driver-only operation and wants conductors to accept new on-board supervisor roles.

Last-minute talks to lessen the impact of the strikes ended unsuccessfully on Sunday.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has criticized the move, saying the strikes are “unnecessary.”

British Airways row continues

Organized by the Unite union, cabin crew with the British Airways have planned to stage a 48-hour strike over low payments after rejecting a 2-percent raise proposed by the airline last month.

According to Unite, the wages were supposed to be between £21,000 and £25,000 annually but, in reality, started at just over £12,000 plus £3 an hour flying pay.

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