Union barons announce MORE Xmas strikes. Mick Lynch loses support

Rail barons announce MORE Christmas strikes – despite Mick the Grinch losing support: Over 700 workers AND Elizabeth Line staff will walkout over New Year (after just FOUR union members turn up at the picket lines)

  • New poll shows that strong opposition to rail strikes hits 36%. Just 30% support 
  • Wave of industrial action intensifies today as Royal Mail workers go on strike
  • Christmas parcels piled up outside depots, with reports of foxes chewing them
  • Comes on second day of RMT industrial action, with nurses strikes tomorrow 
  • Has your business been hit by strikes? Email [email protected]

Rail union barons today called more rail walkouts over Christmas as public support for Mick Lynch’s crippling Christmas strikes tanked and his picket lines thinned with just four people at Kings Cross this morning.

Rail union TSSA has announced 700 staff at West Midlands Trains (WMT) and Great Western Railway (GWR) will down tools on Wednesday December 28 – the day millions are expected to return to work.

Workers on London’s new Elizabeth railway line have voted overwhelmingly to take industrial action over pay – just five weeks after it fully opened through central London.   

Two new polls show that public support for rail strikes has dropped to 30% today from 43% in September – and strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI, from 31% in September to 36% now.

Mr Lynch announced a ban on overtime working as part of this winter’s industrial action, and it is understood this led to a backlash from some members as they lost a lucrative option for clawing back earnings lost to strike days. This means rail workers may miss out on up to £5,000 in earnings. 

Union figures obtained by the Telegraph revealing that fewer than 10,000 out of 115,000 workers blocked a 9 per cent pay offer from Network Rail. 

The picket line was made up of four people at Kings Cross Station during the rail strikes this morning

Placards against a Christmas tree at Piccadilly Station in Manchester today

Support for rail strikes is dropping – and strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI

RMT union boss Mick Lynch (pictured left) with an union official on a picket line outside Euston train station on the second day of rail strikes

Rail

· RMT rail workers will walk out on Dec  14, 16, 17, 24 until 27 and Jan 3, 4, 6, 7

· Walkouts expected to also impact timetable on non-strike days

· Union rejected 8% pay rise offer

NHS & Ambulance workers

· NHS workers will strike on Dec 15 and 20

· Unison, Unite and GMB will stage ambulance worker walkout on Dec 21. GMB will strike again on Dec 28

· Nurses demanding 19 per cent pay increase

Bus strikes

· 1,000 TfL workers will walkout on Dec 16, 17, 24, 27, 31 and Jan 4, 5

· The action will have biggest impact in south and west London on 59 routes

· Unite called off further action after new pay deal agreed

Eurostar

· Security staff will walkout on December 16, 18, 22 and 23

· RMT warned strike would ‘severely affect’ passengers

· Eurostar said it would update affected customers

Border Force

· 1,000 PCS union members will walk out from Dec 23 to 26 and Dec 28 to 31

· Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow will be hit

· Number equivalent to three in four frontline staff

 

Britain faces another Covid-style lockdown with the festive season now in ruins for the third year running and businesses face losing billions in lost sales, cancellations and delayed deliveries as Royal Mail workers also walked out today.

Millions of workers must now stay at home – some until 2023 –  due to union barons such as £84,000-a-year Mr Lynch shutting down critical services until January 10. Two new polls show that support for rail strikes is dropping – and strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI.

With a cold snap blasting the country, support for RMT union boss Mick Lynch on the picket lines appears to be dwindling, with a poll revealing support for the rail strikes falling by eight points since October. 

On day two of the RMT’s rail strikes, half of Britain’s rail lines are closed all day, as thousands of members at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies walk out in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Many parts of the country have no services, including most of Scotland and Wales.

Rail staff have been joined in walkouts by Royal Mail workers, and nurses prepare to take unprecedented industrial action, which experts say puts lives at risk amid claims chemotherapy appointments have been axed as 100,000 medical staff stay at home tomorrow.

Support for the ongoing industrial action appears to be dwindling, with a Savanta poll revealing more than half of the public (56 per cent) do not support railway strikes during the festive period, compared to a third who said do.

Public support fell by eight points from +21 in October to just +13 in December, during which time more walkouts were announced.

Mr Lynch has insisted there is overwhelming support for the industrial action but this could be dwindling. 

The figures show that 9,772 members of the RMT out of the 18,540 who voted opted to reject the 9 per cent pay deal.

Ministers will convene an emergency Cobra meeting for the second time this week over the crisis that will last almost a month. 

Britons had to sacrifice seeing loved ones over the holiday period in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic – but now face having to do the same due to union barons shutting down critical services until January 10.

Businesses have said the ongoing postal strikes are costing them more than during the pandemic, with one forecasting £1million losses at the height of the festive trading period. 

RMT union officials pictured with general secretary Mike Lynch on a picket line earlier this year

Mr Lynch on the picket line outside Euston station yesterday, as the first wave of 48-hour strikes got under way

RMT union officials on the picket line in June this year

Thousands of Christmas cards and parcels have began piling up as Royal Mail workers prepare to mount picket lines outside sorting and delivery offices. 

Two further Royal Mail walkouts are planned for December 23 and December 24, in an increasing bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. 

Royal Mail has brought forward the final posting dates for Christmas cards because of the industrial action. 

The wave of strikes billed the ‘December of discontent’ is bringing untold misery on hard-working Britons in the run-up to Christmas.

Business owners say that their festive trading period – one of the busiest throughout the year – is being hit hard by disruption to critical services.

Pip Heywood, managing director at Thortful, said that postal strikes are costing them between £30,000 to £50,000 per day.

TODAY: Four striking rail workers attend the picket line at Euston station

TWO MONTHS AGO: The picket line at Euston with Mick Lynch in October, which appeared much fuller

A fox spotted at the Royal Mail depot in Filton, Bristol, where parcels have been left outside and exposed, according to reports

Letter and parcels pile up outside the Royal Mail centre in Bristol

Royal Mail workers on the picket line at the Tyneside Mail Centre

Royal Mail delivery trucks were parked up inside the Whitechapel delivery office on Wednesday morning

Bleak mid-winter of strikes: When rail, bus, NHS, Border Force and postal workers will down tools this month   

Britain stands on the precipice of weeks of strikes that will hit almost every part of British life and wreck Christmas for millions

The online greeting card marketplace is heavily reliant on Royal Mail, with around 80 per cent of its products being sent out via the postal service.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Heywood said: ‘Each day of the strike is costing Thortful between 30-50k per day, and Christmas trading has been hugely hit.

‘We can see dramatic drops in trade on the days where we’ve had to advise customers of the extended delivery windows, we’ve seen Thortful customer inquiries triple.

‘Luckily our customers know how reliable we usually are but delivery reliability is so much worse than even during Covid now.

‘It means we’ve had to staff up to protect our customers so its not just hitting revenue, its adding cost and also causing brand damage.’

She added: ‘We’re estimating [the strikes] will cost Thortful in the region of £1 million.’ 

Royal Mail workers at Tyneside Mail Centre today

RMT union boss Mick Lynch spotted on the picket line outside London Euston on Wednesday morning

Airlines urged to ‘look after passengers’ during Border Force strikes

Airlines have been urged by the regulator to ‘look after their passengers’ during Border Force strikes starting next week.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said travellers should be given food, drinks and overnight accommodation as required if flights are delayed or cancelled.

However, they warned that customers are unlikely to be entitled to compensation.

Around 1,000 Border Force staff who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports will strike every day from December 23 to the end of the year, except December 27.

The action is part of a bitter dispute over pay, pensions and jobs.

There are fears that delays in checking the passports of arriving passengers could lead to long queues and even people being held on planes, disrupting subsequent departures.

CAA consumer director Paul Smith said: ‘We anticipate UK Border Force strikes may lead to longer queues and wait times than normal when arriving at the UK border, as well as possible flight disruption.

‘In the event of delays and cancellations, airlines have an obligation to look after their passengers.

‘Where a flight is cancelled, airlines also have an obligation to help passengers find an alternative flight or to provide a refund, although, given the circumstances, passengers may be unable to get to their destinations as quickly as we or airlines would like.

‘We expect airlines to do what they can to minimise the overall disruption to passengers, and this includes proactively providing passengers with updates and information about their rights when flights are disrupted.

‘Border Force strikes are outside of the control of airlines so it is unlikely that customers will be entitled to compensation for any delays and cancellations arising from these strikes.’

Military personnel are being trained to step in at airports if required during the strikes.

The Home Office has warned passengers to ‘be prepared to face longer wait times at UK border control’.

Business owner Ann Edwards, 60, from London, said she was planning to travel to Exeter to bring in the New Year with family for the first time since the pandemic.

She paid £70 for a return ticket from Clapham Junction to Exeter St Davids, but is worried she is ‘going to get stuck’ because of the knock-on effect rail disruption will have on non-strike days.

Ms Edwards said: ‘We are all now entering the Dark Ages, we’re just sleepwalking into it.

‘You can’t be ill because the poor old nurses are on strike, you can’t travel anywhere because trains and Border Force staff are on strike.

‘We’re going back to how it was for my grandparents in the 1930s.

‘The liberties we’ve taken for granted are being slowly, slowly taken away.’

Her Mame Huku business which sells Japanese kimonos and bags has seen a drop in orders this December compared to previous years, which she puts down to the uncertainty caused by Royal Mail strikes.

She continued: ‘The trusty postie is no longer trusty. You can’t ship things to people with it being 50/50 whether it’s going to get there or not.

‘It is soul destroying.

‘People buy from Amazon and places where it’s guaranteed to get there but small retailers have nowhere to go.’

Meanwhile, Sheffield-based business owner Gaynor Lockwood Edwards said ‘things are incredibly bleak at the moment’.

Ms Lockwood Edwards, who owns Quirky Cactus which sells handmade crotchet gifts, said she was concerned her business would not survive the winter due to rising costs and stunted sales due to industrial action.

‘Sales this December compared to last are down 64 per cent,’ she said.

‘Online sales have been few and far between due to the cost-of-living crisis and postal strikes, which are putting even more pressure on businesses like mine.

‘The postal strikes are the last thing small businesses need.’

She added: ‘I have recently applied for an overdraft and started to use a credit card in anticipation of a really terrible January.’

It comes as photographs emerged showing thousands of Christmas cards and parcels piling up outside of Royal Mail centres as industrial action threatens Christmas postal dates. 

There are reports that undelivered parcels left outside the Royal Mail’s depot in Bristol have attracted rats and foxes, who are chewing through the piles left outside in the elements.

A union member at the site told The Telegraph: ‘The packages have now attracted rats and other animals, including a fox.’

Another local CWU official told the publication: ‘Things are being left out in the open at Bristol Mail Centre and I believe it’s the case that vermin and other animals are having a go.’

It comes as thousands of members at Network Rail and 14 train operating companies walked out for a second day in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The walkouts have taken a sledgehammer to the economy with usually packed city centres deserted during the festive period.  

Pubs, bars and restaurants were dealt another blow in lost earnings, and millions of people forced to work from home.


Small business owner Gaynor Lockwood Edwawrds, who owns Sheffield-based Quirky Cactus, said her sales are down 64 per cent compared to last year

A fox pictured at the Royal Mail depot in Bristol, where thousands of undelivered parcels have been piling up

Images have emerged showing thousands of parcels outside the Royal Mail depot in Bristol

Rail strikes are taking place for a second day, with a further 48-hour walkout planned later this week

The strike – part of a string scheduled over the Christmas period, including this week and Christmas Eve, one of the busiest travel days in the calendar – cleared busy high streets of shoppers and workers yesterday in cities including London, Manchester and Leeds.

Hospitality chiefs warned that the industry expects to lose £1.5billion in sales as festive parties are cancelled.

A restauranteur revealed he lost more than half of his Christmas bookings during the first day of crippling rail strikes which forced customers to stay at home. 

December is vital for the hospitality industry and takings in this month can make up a huge percentage of a restaurant’s overall annual revenue.

Sam Harrison, who runs Sam’s Riverside restaurant in London, said that he had seen his bookings decimated by half during yesterday’s rail strikes

Sam Harrison, who runs Sam’s Riverside restaurant in London, said that he had seen his bookings decimated by half during yesterday’s rail strikes.

His lunchtime bookings went down from 125 to 60 and his dinner guests fell from 185 to 60, many of those Christmas parties, which he said was ‘£8,000 a day, just gone like that’.

This also meant that kitchen and front of house staff, of which he employs 50, had their hours reduced in the run-up to Christmas.

The seasoned restaurateur said the losses were all the more devastating given they are expecting ‘what is about to be one of the harshest winters for trade most of us have ever seen’.

Staff at Sam’s Riverside restaurant have seen their hours reduced because of cancellations

‘We lost the last two Christmases for obvious reasons, and so we were hoping for a bumper December.

‘It’s the one time of year which every seat should be full for lunch and dinner. You only get one chance at December, people don’t rebook Christmas parties.

‘There was already a drop on previous years due to the recession, people cutting back, but bookings were good. Then the rail strikes just killed it.’

After seeing his cash reserves dwindle during the pandemic, Mr Harrison said himself like so many other hospitality businesses ‘need this December to survive’.

He said: ‘Lots of restaurants are saying it’s just like lockdown again.

‘I agree because it feels like again, at very short notice, people are cancelling because their plans are changing.

Mr Harrison said that every seat in the restaurant should be booked during the festive period but yesterday’s lunchtime capacity was only filled by half

‘They can’t get into work, they can’t travel.

‘Losing the revenue is heartbreaking enough but there is an awful lot of wastage because people are cancelling on the day and we’ve already ordered the food’.

He added: ‘In some ways it’s worse because of the impact the pandemic had and we have no cash reserves. It feels like a daily battle’

‘People doing the rail strikes don’t realise the impact they’re having and how it filters down to working people’.

Mr Harrison’s story is just one of many unfolding across Britain as the beleaguered hospitality sector is feeling the impact of national walkouts yet again.

Venues in big cities, which rely heavily on people travelling by train and Tube, are among the worst-hit, as people opt to stay at home instead.

This can be detrimental to businesses, especially when cancellations are made at the last-minute. 

The George Tavern landlady Pauline Forster said takings were down by 50 per cent during the rail strikes

The George Tavern in Stepney is a live music venue and pub – but its landlady says it is suffering during the rail strikes

Pubs are also suffering during what should be a busy period, among them The George Tavern in Stepney, east London.

But its landlady Pauline Forster said takings were down by 50 per cent during the rail strikes.

The pub and live music venue runs gigs most nights of the week, but has seen some of the acts cancelling before shows, as well as less people attending.

She said: ‘You can half everything when there’s a strike, and now we’ve got the bad weather as well. It’s double trouble for hospitality.

‘We’re normally packed this time of year. Every time we have a strike its bad.

‘Even when there’s not a strike people are scared of travelling in case they can’t get back. There’s a lot of fear so people are just staying at home.’

One night this week Ms Forster saw takings of £600 when it ‘should be more like £2,000’, she said.

‘We just didn’t get the people through the door. I’m on the side of the rail workers, my gripe isn’t with them. It’s with the government.’ 

Are your Christmas presents a fox’s dinner? Packages piled up outside a depot amid Royal Mail strikes are being chewed by vermin, union sources say

Foxes and rats are chewing through the piles of undelivered parcels and letters left outside a Royal Mail depot, union sources have said.

Postal workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are staging a fresh 48-hour national walkout from today, marking their third and fourth of six days of strikes in the run-up to Christmas. 

Royal Mail has brought forward the final posting dates for Christmas cards to December 16 for first class mail and December 21 for special delivery guaranteed. 

CWU officials have now revealed packages piled outside in the elements at the depot in Filton, Bristol, have attracted vermin.

A fox is caught scurrying across the piled up mail and Christmas parcels at the depot in Bristol 

CWU officials have now revealed packages piled outside in the elements at the depot in Filton, Bristol, have attracted vermin. Pictured: A Cadbury’s package shared on Facebook on December 2 showing an order chewed by rats

Photos show hundreds of cages packed with undelivered post and there are reports that many of the parcels have been left outside the mail centre for at least 17 hours.

A union member at the site told The Telegraph: ‘The packages have now attracted rats and other animals, including a fox.’

Another local CWU official told the publication: ‘Things are being left out in the open at Bristol Mail Centre and I believe it’s the case that vermin and other animals are having a go.’

They said there have been talks of a tarpaulin to cover the exposed parcels, but added ‘it would have to be the biggest tarpaulin in the world as everything has been ruined’. 

MailOnline has contacted Royal Mail Group for comment. 

Members of the CWU will join picket lines outside sorting and delivery offices across the country in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

The two sides have held talks in recent weeks but the row remains deadlocked. 

Photos show hundreds of cages packed with undelivered post and there are reports that many of the parcels have been left outside the mail centre for at least 17 hours. Pictured: Filton, Bristol

A union member at the site told The Telegraph: ‘The packages have now attracted rats and other animals, including a fox’

The backlog of undelivered letters and parcels which has been building up for days outside the Royal Mail sorting office in Bristol

The new last posting dates for arrival for Christmas Day are:

– 1st Class, 1st Class Signed For – December 16

– Special Delivery Guaranteed – December 21

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said: ‘Royal Mail bosses are risking a Christmas meltdown because of their stubborn refusal to treat their employees with respect.

‘Postal workers want to get on with serving the communities they belong to, delivering Christmas gifts and tackling the backlog from recent weeks.

‘But they know their value, and they will not meekly accept the casualisation of their jobs, the destruction of their conditions and the impoverishment of their families.

‘This can be resolved if Royal Mail begin treating their workers with respect, and meet with the union to resolve this dispute.’

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: ‘The CWU is striking at our busiest time, deliberately holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.

‘We are doing everything we can to deliver Christmas for our customers, and would like to thank the increasing number of posties returning to work each strike day, temporary workers and managers from across the business who are helping to keep the mail moving.

‘However, this task becomes more challenging as Christmas nears.

‘Three weeks ago, we made a best and final pay offer worth up to 9 per cent over 18 months.

‘Instead of working with us to agree on changes required to fund that offer and get pay into our posties’ pockets, the CWU has announced plans to ballot in the New Year for further strike action.

‘Their misguided belief that further industrial action, in a business already losing more than £1million a day, will result in an improved pay offer is misleading its members and risking their long-term job security.’

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