RMT union members are striking once again over pay, changes to terms and conditions, and job cuts.
Those taking action are employed at 18 train companies, who also plan to walk out on 18 March, 30 March and 1 April.
Steve Montgomery, chair of the Rail Delivery Group, believes the RMT leadership prevented the dispute from being resolved by refusing to give train operator employees a vote on a proposal of 9% over a two-year period, and 13% for the lowest paid workers.
He said: “They will also be asking why the RMT leadership blocked the chance to resolve this dispute by refusing to give their members – many of whom would have benefited from a 13% increase – a say on their own deal.”
Meanwhile, RMT highlighted its new research which showed that bosses at seven rail firms have received 15-275% pay rises at a time when most of their staff have had their pay rates frozen.
At First Group, which includes Avanti West Coast and Transpennine Express, the salaries of its chief financial officer and chief executive officer rose by 275% and 168% respectively in one year.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “On the one hand Ministers tell workers they must tighten their belts and on the other they are using taxpayers’ money to fund eyewatering pay rises and profits for the railway fat cats. It is this blatant the unfairness that will only reinforce our members determination to get a better deal.”
Today’s strike does not affect Network Rail RMT members, who have suspended strike action pending a pay referendum on Monday (20 March).