Yesterday train services have been severely disrupted after rail workers walked out in the first of a wave of 48-hour strikes. But how dedicated to the action are union members? The head of Network Rail has told us why he thinks RMT boss Mick Lynch, above, is lashing out.
The big story: Lynch ‘worried that strikes won’t hold’
With neither side willing to blink first, Britain is in the midst of a winter of discontent with strikes meaning trains will be cancelled, Christmas cards and presents delayed and routine hospital appointments pushed back.
But how secure is the backing among union members?
The 10 days of strike action began Tuesday. As well as causing transport chaos for commuters and over the Christmas getaway, it means tens of thousands of rail workers are now facing a difficult Christmas as the RMT does not provide strike pay. These are all the dates that services will be disrupted. Andrew Gilligan claims that there is one solution to the rail chaos, but that the government is ignoring it as an option.
Strikes have stepped up a gear today, as Royal Mail workers join rail staff in walking out. We have pictures of the impact on a backlog of mail – and warnings about tomorrow’s nurses’ action.
Foxes and rats ‘gnawing at’ mountain of strike-hit mail
As commuters face a second day of severe strike disruption on the railways, members of the RMT union are joined in walkouts by Royal Mail workers. Postal workers in the Communication Workers Union are staging a fresh 48-hour national walkout today – their third of six days of strikes in the run-up to Christmas. Union sources have claimed that rats and foxes are gnawing at Christmas parcels and letters that have been left outside depots. Photographs show a fox climbing over thousands of undelivered items stranded outside the Royal Mail’s main Bristol base. Workers said rats had also been seen amongst the sacks. Senior news reporter Patrick Sawer reports on how long it might take to clear the backlog. It comes as nurses are due to start unprecedented strike action tomorrow in a row over pay. NHS England’s cancer director has admitted that cancer surgery could be cancelled during the nurses’ action.
Meanwhile, union voting figures show that fewer than 10,000 out of 115,000 rail workers are blocking a deal that would end the most disruptive train strikes. The first of 10 days of industrial action on the rail network over Christmas began yesterday with just one in five trains running. The strikes went ahead after members of the RMT union rejected a nine per cent pay rise offer from Network Rail, the state-backed owner of tracks, stations and signals. Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has claimed there is overwhelming support for industrial action. But Oliver Gill has seen union voting figures showing the percentage of staff that are preventing a deal from being agreed.
Why nurses rejected pay rise
Nurses in England want the Government to dig deeper than the 4.75pc pay increase on offer – in a scenario all across the public sector. High inflation is turning pay rises into real terms cuts. Officials say they cannot afford to pay workers more and the unions say staff cannot afford to be paid less. Even before the recent bout of high inflation, partially spurred by Russia’s war pushing up energy costs, public sector pay had already fallen substantially. Eir Nolsoe crunched the numbers to explain why NHS nurses turned down a pay rise. Meanwhile, midwives in Wales will take industrial action over pay – but not in England.
Prince and Princess of Wales show business as usual
Hand-in-hand, and seemingly without a care, the Prince and Princess of Wales and their three children have sent their annual Christmas card into the world. The message? Take your pick. Unity, business-as-usual and fuss free, here is the future of the Royal family in all its smiling glory. The Prince and Princess are “delighted” to share the image with the public, they say. Royal editor Hannah Furness explains the meaning set against the unfolding revelations of the Sussexes’ Netflix docu-drama.
BBC row | Gary Lineker has branded the US “an extraordinarily racist country”, as the BBC became embroiled in a new row over the former England striker-turned-TV presenter’s political pronouncements. He had already angered current World Cup hosts Qatar by voicing concerns over its human rights record. Now he has shown that he is prepared to do the same with the next tournament. For more Qatar coverage, scroll to Sport.
Ukraine latest | Kyiv wakes to blasts booming through capital
Explosions blasted through Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv this morning, prompting a number of emergency services to be dispatched.Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said the blasts hit the city’s central Shevchenkivskyi district early on Wednesday.
+Chornobaivka in Kherson Oblast was struck hard during the invasion and the village has been working hard to restore normalcy following Russia’s withdrawal.
Working from morning til night, the village’s mayor Ihor Dudar has arranged assistance and support, met with locals, and hopes that every day brings more and more positive news.
Ad campaign | Turn the heat down, Government to tell Britons
A nationwide advertising campaign urging Britons to save energy by turning down boilers and radiators, despite the recent cold snap, will be launched by the Government this weekend.Posters attached to the sides of buses, commercials on television and messages broadcast on radio will all feature this winter under plans to be revealed by ministers.
Can you solve the puzzle? | GCHQ releases children’s challenge
GCHQ has set a festive puzzle for schoolchildren, aimed at demonstrating the importance of perseverance.The puzzle, which features on the Christmas card sent by Sir Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ, is designed to test not only schoolchildren’s knowledge of key subjects but also their ability to work as a team.
Police at the remote property in Wieambilla where the attack unfolded
Comment and analysis
Allison Pearson | Smartphones ruin children – let’s ban them
It becomes clearer by the day that the damn things make kids sadder, lonelier and more inclined to end their precious young lives
How much more evidence do we need that smartphones are the nicotine of our age?
Designed to be highly addictive, they are cool, pleasurable and rewarding at first, but eventually become ruinous of health. A study by King’s College London estimated that one in four children and young people use their phones “in a way that is consistent with behavioural addiction”.
Lionel Messi will have the chance to crown his glittering career with a World Cup winner’s medal after opening the scoring in a magical display that helped Argentina comprehensively beat Croatia 3-0 and reach Sunday’s final. Chief football correspondent Jason Burt has our match report from the Lusail stadium and this is the best world reaction. Meanwhile, Leicester Tigers want compensation of up to £1 million for Steve Borthwick to become the England head coach.
Despite finding ourselves in a dark realm of grim tidings this year, is there a fairytale ending for pantomime? After two Decembers on the trot marred by Covid-related closures and upsets, the evidence emerging as the 2022 season gets under way looks like a cue for roof-raising cheers.
James Cameron’s decade-in-the-making The Way of Water has no plot, no stakes and atrocious dialogue. What happened to this great director?
One of the chief criticisms of James Cameron’s Avatar was that its tale of a soldier going native had been told many times before: it was just Dances with Wolves in space, or Pocahontas with Cirque du Soleil-trained Smurfs. As complaints go, it was an odd one – plots attain classic status for a reason. But it certainly can’t be levelled at this decade-in-the-making sequel, which has almost no plot whatsoever to speak of, original or otherwise.
Business briefing: ‘Great Unretirement’ accelerates
Badalamenti, who has died age 85, became Lynch’s great foil. Five years after Blue Velvet, they would create some of the most gorgeously disturbing music ever set to film with the score to Lynch’s Twin Peaks. The score and the story of doomed small town girl Laura Palmer weren’t just complementary – they were entwined, one intimately informing the other. To this day, it is impossible to listen to Badalamenti’s Laura Palmer’s Theme or the Twin Peaks theme, reworked from Cruise’s Falling, without being reminded of the show’s mingling of beauty and terror. You may perhaps experience a shudder or feel a chill, even on a warm day.
Soul-baring is out, nudity is in: our comedy critic looks over the trends of 2022 – and picks out the year’s best and worst shows
There seemed to be even more nudity than usual at Edinburgh this year, but exposing oneself figuratively – rather than literally – is going out of style. While the 2010s were the decade of soul-baring confessional comedy, in 2022 sincerity is passé. America’s millennial self-satirists (Kate Berlant, Catherine Cohen, Bo Burnham) have become touchstones for an even younger generation for UK comics, whose every line comes wrapped in inverted commas.
Our companies have made extraordinary efforts to innovate this year yet the funding body’s punishing cuts mean the art form is under threat
In 2021, opera struggled back against the external attack of the pandemic. In 2022, it was viciously attacked by a virus from within: the body-blow of a threatened 30 per cent funding cut in Arts Council England’s November review. Someone had been reading The Sun: opera was just for toffs, apparently; a superfluous art form that could safely be penalised nationwide
A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world.
We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".
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