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‘People came up last night and slept on the floor: Airport passengers sleeping on the floor amid RMT train strikes- Simon Calder

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In a continuing saga of industrial action, the already beleaguered train services have been hit by another round of strikes this week. The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) members have joined the strike, intensifying the ongoing dispute over jobs, pay, and working conditions. Earlier this week, members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) walked out, causing major disruptions as several operators were unable to run any trains.

Simon Calder, who visited Stansted Airport, shares his insights on the situation. The significance of his location cannot be understated, as images have emerged this week showing stranded passengers resorting to sleeping on the airport floor due to the train strikes.

Simon Calder reports that the scene has been rather gloomy, with numerous passengers seen sleeping on the floor. “It’s been pretty miserable, and yes, I’ve just passed by some sleeping passengers, so I’m here in the midst of it,” he remarks. “It’s been a very busy morning, with signs indicating that things are returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, I can assure you that none of the thousands of passengers here today arrived by train because the first one doesn’t arrive until 8 A.M. Hence, people arrived last night and slept on the floor.”

The impact of the strike is not limited to Stansted Airport alone. Similar scenes have been witnessed at Gatwick, Luton, Birmingham, and Manchester airports. Today’s strike, while not more significant than previous ones by the RMT, is causing considerable damage. Notably, Wales and Scotland have been unaffected, with Transport for Wales and Scottish transport services operating normally. However, long-distance operators and commuter services are facing the brunt of the strike.

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The real challenge lies ahead, as tomorrow, on June 3rd, Cup Final Day and Epsom Derby Day, the strike is expected to have a severe impact. Train drivers have taken to YouTube, vowing to intensify the strike on these significant events. Consequently, if you are planning to travel tomorrow, luck will be essential unless you reside in Wales or Scotland.

The timing of the strike has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism for being cynical and dubious. Manchester United and Manchester City fans, in particular, will face immense challenges traveling from Manchester to London. The public sentiment towards the ongoing strikes is increasingly turning sour, with frustrations reaching their peak after nearly a year since the first national rail strike in decades began on Midsummer’s Day in 2022.

Mick Weenan, the head of the train drivers’ union, expressed the stagnation in negotiations, stating, “We’re no closer to any kind of settlement. We simply want a decent raise in wages to compensate for the lack of pay increases over the past few years. We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and do not want any strings attached.” The RMT union echoes a similar sentiment, while the government argues that rail finances have been severely impacted by COVID-19, making it impossible to grant substantial increases without productivity improvements.

As a result, the ones caught in the middle are the passengers, who find themselves increasingly unable to trust the railway system to get them where they need to be. With tens of thousands of football fans set to travel by coach instead, due to the cancellation of services, the situation is becoming dire.

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We thank Simon Calder for providing us with an update from Stansted Airport and wish him a safe journey as he catches his flight.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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