RAILWAY union boss Mike Lynch has insisted that train workers "don't want to cause misery" after they announced a three-day strike.
More than 50,000 railway staff will walkout later this month in the biggest dispute on the network in 33 years.
The RMT union will shut down the country's railway network on 21st, 23rd and 25th June, due to the inability of the rail employers to come to a negotiated settlement with RMT.
According to the union, Network Rail and the train operating companies have subjected their staff to multiyear pay freezes and plan to cut thousands of jobs which will make the railways unsafe.
Despite intense talks with the rail bosses, RMT has not been able to secure a pay proposal nor a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
The strikes threaten widespread travel disruption during a number of major events, including concerts, test match cricket and the Glastonbury festival.
Glastonbury starts on June 22, while that week will also see England play New Zealand in a test match in Leeds, the British athletics championships in Manchester, and gigs in London's Hyde Park by Sir Elton John and The Rolling Stones.
There will also be a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London on June 24 and 25 and it is Armed Forces Day on June 25.
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Now RMT union boss Mike Lynch has sworn he would like to find another way to get what they want other than strike.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain he said: "We don't want to cause misery.
"We've got a cost of living crisis and our workers have been working throughout the pandemic and their reward has been a pay freeze.
"I understand the anger of people – but I also understand the anger of our workers.
"We're not holding the public hostage – but we're not going to accept the poverty of our members.
"I would like to find another way other than strike but we've been talking to these companies for two years.
"You're asking us to be passive in the face of aggression."
SUMMER TRAVEL MELTDOWN
The announcement of the strike has caused huge anger and has left Brits facing a summer travel meltdown with chaos on the rails and rocketing fuel prices piled on top of airport misery.
It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps slammed the militant union walkout.
He fumed: "It is incredibly disappointing the RMT have decided to take action that could drive passengers away from the rail network for good.
"The pandemic has changed travel habits – with 25 power cent fewer ticket sales and the taxpayer stepping in to keep the railways running at a cost of £16bn, equivalent to £600 per household.
“We must act now to put the industry on a sustainable footing.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the transport select committee, said the hellish strike will usher in “three days of midsummer misery” for Brits.
He told The Sun: “It is very bad news for passengers and for the country just as the transport sector is trying to get back on its feet.
“We are about to enter three days of midsummer misery.”
The Rail Delivery Group – which represents train bosses – also blasted the action.
Chairman Steve Montgomery fumed: “Today’s announcement is disappointing.
"We urge the RMT’s leadership to call off needless and damaging strikes and continue to work with us to ensure a fair deal for our people and for the taxpayer while securing the long-term future of the railways.
"No one wins in the event of a strike. Staff lose pay, the industry loses vital revenue making it harder to afford pay increases, and passengers and businesses are disrupted.
“While we will keep as many services running as possible, sadly if this action goes ahead, significant disruption will be inevitable. We therefore urge passengers to plan their journeys carefully and find alternative ways to travel during the strike period where possible.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Railway workers have been treated appallingly.
"Despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.
"We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1pc and rising.
"Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.
"Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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"This unfairness is fuelling our members anger and their determination to win a fair settlement.
"RMT is open to meaningful negotiations with rail bosses and ministers, but they will need to come up with new proposals to prevent months of disruption on our railways."
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