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Friday, April 19, 2024

UK faces travel chaos as trains, junior doctors and airport staff plan to strike in August

The UK is bracing for a series of strikes that could disrupt travel plans for millions of people in August 2023. Several transport and health workers’ unions have announced industrial action over pay and working conditions, affecting trains, airports and hospitals across the country.

Rail passengers could face delays and cancellations as workers from three different train operators plan to walk out on various dates in August.

  • ScotRail staff will strike every Sunday until 15 August over a dispute about overtime payments. The operator has warned of reduced services and advised customers to check before they travel.
  • East Midlands Railway workers will strike for three days from 27 to 29 August over a row about contracts and pensions. The operator said it was “disappointed” by the action and would try to run as many services as possible.
  • South Western Railway guards will strike for four days from 27 to 30 August over a long-running dispute about their role on trains. The operator said it was “frustrated” by the action and would announce its contingency plans soon.

Junior doctors’ strike

Thousands of junior doctors in England could go on strike for the first time in five years over pay and working conditions. The British Medical Association (BMA) said its members had rejected a 3% pay rise offer from the government and voted in favour of industrial action.

The BMA said it would announce the dates and form of the strike soon, but assured patients that emergency care would not be affected. It said the strike was a “last resort” after years of “underfunding, understaffing and a lack of appreciation”.

The government said it was “disappointed” by the decision and urged the BMA to return to negotiations. It said the 3% pay rise was “fair and in line with wider public sector pay awards”.

Airport walkouts

Travellers flying to or from some of the UK’s busiest airports could face disruption as workers from two different companies plan to strike over pay disputes.

  • Heathrow Airport workers, including baggage handlers, firefighters and security staff, will strike for four days from 23 to 26 August. The Unite union said its members had rejected a 2.4% pay rise offer and accused the airport of “brutal fire and rehire tactics”. The airport said it was “disappointed” by the action and hoped to minimise its impact on passengers.
  • Gatwick Airport workers, including check-in staff, cleaners and drivers, will strike for two days on 20 and 23 August. The GMB union said its members had rejected a 0% pay rise offer and demanded a “fair share of the profits”. The airport said it was “surprised” by the action and expected to operate as normal during the strike.

How to cope with the strikes

The strikes could cause significant disruption for travellers, especially during the busy summer holiday period. Here are some tips on how to cope with the potential chaos:

  • Check your travel plans before you set off. Visit the websites or social media accounts of your train operator, airport or airline for the latest updates on services and contingency plans.
  • Consider alternative modes of transport. If your train or flight is cancelled or delayed, you may be able to use buses, coaches, taxis or car-sharing services instead. However, bear in mind that these may also be in high demand or affected by traffic congestion.
  • Know your rights. If your train or flight is cancelled or delayed by more than a certain amount of time, you may be entitled to compensation or a refund. Check the terms and conditions of your ticket or booking for details on how to claim.
  • Be flexible and patient. If possible, avoid travelling on the days when strikes are planned or book your travel for earlier or later dates. If you have to travel during the strike, allow extra time for your journey and be prepared for possible changes or disruptions.

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