Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Militants Want Rail Strikes to Last a Week

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Militants Want Rail Strikes to Last a Week

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

HARDLINE union members were today demanding weeklong strikes on South West Trains, on top of the 48-hour stoppages already hitting hundreds of thousands of rail commuters.

Greg Tucker, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union activist at the centre of the strikes, spoke of the threat of escalating action as 350,000 commuters struggled to get to work today - with SWT managers helping to keep 600 of the company's 1,700 daily services running.

He said: "SWT seems to be intent on doing all they can to break the strike and destroy the union."

Speaking on a Waterloo station picket line he added: "Our members are more determined than ever and many are now calling for weeklong strikes."

A SWT spokeswoman said: "This confirms our view that the RMT is strike-happy at the moment." She called on the union to return to the negotiating table.

Union leaders are expected to meet later this week to discuss future tactics in the dispute involving guards and station staff over pay and disciplinary matters - estimated to be costing London [pound]12million a day in lost output.

Passengers defied the union barons today simply by getting to work. They left home hours earlier, waited for ages for the few trains that did run, and then found them already packed. As if that wasn't bad enough there was a signal failure at Woking, a key junction on the lines offering a skeleton service. Yet they still got through.

Many commuters took to the roads, jamming the M3 and M4 from the early hours, while others had a tortuous journey by coach from stations without trains to those which did.

Recruitment consultant Ernest Kwateng, 28, from Surbiton, summed up the feelings of most of the commuters, for whom today's is the third 48-hour strike this month: "For us there are no alternatives.

We just have to get on with it."

Key points in the dispute include: Cancellation of 1,100 services, with only 600 trains running.

SWT setting up a permanent, rapid-reaction strikebreaking force of managers to replace strikers.

No new peace talks planned - SWT and the RMT, largest of the rail unions, accuse each other of failing to get back to the negotiating table. …

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