Downing Street has accused railway unions of targeting ‘displaced Ukrainians trying to attend the Eurovision Song Contest’ after strikes were announced that will also affect the FA Cup final and Epsom Derby.
Number 10 waded in last night amid growing anger across the country over the move Ashef and the RMT, that’s zt to hit hundreds of thousands of sports and music fans.
Those affected will include Ukrainian refugees, who received subsidized Eurovision tickets after the Russian invasion of their homeland meant the event was moved to Liverpool.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘It is incredibly disappointing that Aslef has taken this action. By choosing these specific dates they are trying to disrupt the FA Cup final, thousands of people will be affected.
“That includes displaced Ukrainians trying to attend the Eurovision Song Contest, I know there is a clear possibility.”
Railway unions have sparked anger by targeting the FA Cup final, Epsom Derby and the Eurovision Song Contest for strike action. (File Image)
Bosses at Asle and the RMT were branded “disgusting” for calling strikes that will affect hundreds of thousands of sports and music fans. (File Image)
Wembley Stadium will play host to the FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Manchester United on Saturday 3 June as fans may be inconvenienced by impending train strikes
Pupils taking their GCSEs could also face disruption as the union action coincides with exam season.
Catering chefs warned the strikes would be another hammer blow to an industry that has already lost £3bn to rail strikes.
Aslef, representing train drivers, announced strikes on May 12, May 31 and June 3 when Manchester City and Manchester United meet at Wembley.
To make matters worse, the RMT said its members would strike on May 13 – the day of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool. In other developments:
- A planned nurses’ strike for this bank holiday weekend is being reduced from 48 hours to one day after a Supreme Court judge ruled the full strike would be against the law;
- Striking physiotherapists joined midwives and other health workers in voting for a government wage bill;
- But GPs threatened to strike over proposed contract changes;
- GCSE students were forced to study alone at home amid another wave of school strikes yesterday.
Tens of thousands of fans from the two Manchester football clubs are expected to make the journey from the North West to Wembley, with many others traveling to London from across the country to be close to the action.
The Football Association only confirmed on Wednesday that kick-off would be at the traditional time of 3pm for the first time in 12 years to give fans more time to get home.
But the rail strike has thrown their plans into disarray, with roads leading to the capital likely to be bogged down. Both clubs are assessing the situation and are in contact with the FA.
Catering chefs warned the strikes would be another hammer blow to an industry that has already lost £3bn to rail strikes
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust said: “A train strike on Cup Final day will be a huge inconvenience to the tens of thousands of supporters traveling from Manchester to London on that day.
‘We need all available means of transport to meet demand and rail is an important part of that. We call on the government and the trade union to sit around the table.’
June 3rd is also the date of the Epsom Derby and up to 80,000 fans are expected at Surrey Racecourse, many usually reached by train.
The May 12 and 13 strikes will affect concertgoers attending the second semifinal and final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool. They will take place on May 11 and 13 respectively. Ukraine won last year but cannot host due to the Russian invasion and Britain has intervened. It is the first time in 25 years that the UK has hosted the event.
The government has ensured that displaced people from the war-torn country involved in the Homes for Ukraine, Ukraine Extension and Ukraine Family programs receive subsidized tickets.
Aslef’s Mick Whelan rejected a ‘risky’ wage offer of 4 per cent from 15 train companies, despite the average driver already earning £60,000 for a four-day week. The union also rejected reforms to make services more efficient.
Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said so the Telegraph that the last proposed wage proposal is ‘reasonable and reasonable’.
The RMT’s Mick Lynch said it had “no alternative” but to reject a 9 percent pay rise over two years.
There are hardly any trains running on most strike dates. Aslef also cancels overtime from May 15 to 20, as well as May 13 and June 1. This will further disrupt the service.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “It is deeply disappointing that Aslef has decided to call strikes and ban overtime, targeting thousands of people attending the UK’s first Eurovision event in 25 years – including Ukrainians displaced by the war of Putin – and the very first event in Manchester. FA Cup Final.
Pupils taking their GCSEs could also face disruption as the union action coincides with exam season. (File image)
“The (train companies) fair and reasonable offer included urgent reforms to ensure our railways are financially sustainable for the benefit of passengers, railway workers and the taxpayer, as well as a wage increase. Aslef must call off these strikes and give their members a say in this offer.’
Tory MP Greg Smith, who sits on the House of Commons Transport Committee, said: “The millions of people who have not had a single pay rise or a modest wage increase will look on in disbelief and be disgusted by the strike action.”
There was hope the strikes would soon be over after a long-running dispute between the RMT and Network Rail was resolved last month when workers accepted 9 per cent over a two-year period.
But a separate dispute between more than a dozen railway companies and the RMT and Aslef is unresolved. Since last June, the RMT has staged 18 strikes and Aslef eight.
Whelan said his executive committee had rejected a 4 percent offer that was “clearly not meant to be accepted as inflation is still above 10 percent.” Mr Lynch said railway chiefs had ‘reneged on their original proposals and torpedoed these negotiations’.
UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls said: ‘Hospitality businesses across the country have lost more than £3bn in turnover as a result of the strikes and there is no doubt this will increase as a result of the announcement, especially as it will now have an impact have on the busy, much sought-after summer period.
“I call on all parties to redouble their efforts in the negotiations.”
Aslef has been contacted for comment.