EXHAUSTED travellers have fallen asleep on metal chairs after being left stranded amid chaos on the rails due to industrial action.
The three-day train strike this week has paralysed the country and cut off entire regions, including most of the South West.
This morning, desperate passengers were seen resting tired eyes at London Euston as they wearily awaited their train.
Meanwhile, hundreds of revellers sprawled out on Manchester pavements as they waited for rail replacement buses to take them to Somerset for Glastonbury Festival.
But the misery may only be the beginning as a "summer of discontent" holds Britain in its grip.
There are fears militant unions are already drawing up plans for a crippling second wave of strikes in just two weeks.
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Talks between the hardline RMT and Network Rail to avert today’s walkout collapsed in acrimony last night.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps branded union boss Mick Lynch a liar — while the RMT leader said Mr Shapps was responsible for “wrecking” the negotiations.
Now it’s feared that once this week’s first wave of strikes is over, commuters will get only a fortnight’s respite before the RMT strikes again.
Mad Mick threatened more misery to come, saying the union would “continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement”.
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Network Rail is expecting a decision on new strike dates to be made as early as next week. Whitehall and railway officials fear the next wave could begin on July 9.
And the plague is spreading, with tram workers set to vote on action during the Edinburgh Festival, walk-outs across Ryanair and easyJet services, and teachers threatening to strike too.
The National Education Union yesterday told No10 it wants 12 per cent rises for its members by September.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi warned teachers risk wrecking kids’ recovery from the Covid pandemic if their unions vote to strike.
Members of the drivers' union Aslef on Greater Anglia are striking today in a separate dispute over pay.
And hundreds of bus drivers are to go on strike in a dispute over their pay.
Members of the Unite union — employed by Stagecoach in Merseyside — will walk out on June 30 and again on July 4.
Students will be hit again by plans for picket lines on bus routes.
It comes as:
- One in five services are cancelled today, with entire regions completely cut off
- Another day of strike action is set to take place on Saturday
- Teachers and nurses could walk out during a 'summer of discontent' that threatens to strangle Britain
- The RMT is already drafting up proposals for another walkout in a fortnight
- Union leader Mick Lynch said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is "wrecking" peace talks
Youngsters are already facing hardship as they struggle to get to their GCSE and A-Level exams.
Jessica Pinkett, head of youth insights at Student Beans, said: “With two days of industrial action, and the rest of the week plagued with delays and cancellations, there is concern some students may miss A-Level and GCSE exams if cancellations and delays occur on their journey.”
Train stations are deserted today as most of the network shuts down again. Just one in five trains will run today, and lines will only be open between 7.30am and 6.30pm.
Already this week, the TSSA union has settled on a 7.1 per cent pay increase with Merseyrail and the RMT is eyeing a similar package in return for signing up to modernisation.
But that’s far higher than ministers want public sector workers to receive as they warn it will see inflation continue to spiral.
In a bid to ease the chaos, ministers will bring forward long-promised plans for agency workers to stand in for strikers.
The PM’s plan would help to thwart strikes by allowing others who are trained to step in instead.
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However, Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, has warned the plans won't work.
He said agency workers have not been properly consulted, adding: "It is not something agencies want, and will not achieve the goals the Government claims."
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