Rail strikes: Calderdale MP Craig Whittaker says 'country being held to ransom' as Halifax passengers plan for another day of cancelled trains

MP for the Calder Valley Craig Whittaker claims the "country is being held to ransom" by striking train workers.

By sarah fitton
Friday, 24th June 2022, 11:56 am

The Conservative MP condemned the walk-outs which have left Calderdale without any rail services for two days already this week, with another strike planned for tomorrow.

Network Rail and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union are in talks in a bid to resolve a dispute over pay and redundancies.

The RMT union says it is "leading the way in standing up for all working people trying to get a pay rise and some job security".

Another strike is planned for tomorrow

But, speaking during his weekly Facebook live, Mr Whittaker described the strikes as "appalling".

"There is absolutely no need for these strikes whatsoever," he added.

"The reason why I think it's appalling is because the train drivers, for example, have had over 40 per cent pay rises over the past five years, which is way above anybody else.

"They're holding the country to ransom, so stopping ordinary people getting about their daily lives - whether that's hospital appointments, whether that's sitting GCSEs or A-levels or just getting into work.

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker

"And they've done it in the most disruptive way they can.

"I think it's abhorrent, particularly in light of what we've been through as a country with the Covid restrictions and the shutting down of the economy, and these people are really making ordinary people's lives a misery.

"We've had several people contacting us and it's not highly-paid people, it's people wanting to get to work who have to get to work, can't work from home and will lose out on their salary because they can't turn into work, which is just appalling.

"Something like £16 billion was given to the railways to keep it going during the pandemic, which many of those striking this week will, without question, have benefitted from.

"They really do need to get on and put it to bed so the ordinary people aren't suffering."

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Our members are leading the way in standing up for all working people trying to get a pay rise and some job security.

"In a modern economy workers need to be properly rewarded for their work, enjoy good conditions and have the peace of mind that their job will not be taken away from them.

"Grant Shapps needs to get in the room or get out of the way so we can negotiate with these companies who we have successfully struck dozens of deals with previously.

"What we cannot accept is thousands of railway workers being thrown on the scrapheap after being praised as heroes during Covid.

"RMT will continue its industrial campaign until a negotiated settlement is reached."

Talks continue with Network Rail and the train operating companies, with strike action still scheduled for tomorrow.

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Here is everything you need to know about tomorrow's train strikes in Calderdale