THE MILITANT RMT union has announced plans to further derail British passengers’ itineraries this summer, with yet another strike called for later this month.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, typically abbreviated to “RMT”, is behind the current action on Southern railways, which has been wreaking havoc for commuters in the South East of England.

And now the socialist orientated union has announced its intention to further disrupt British holidaymakers’ plans by striking on Eurostar trains from 12-15 and 27-29 August 2016.

The current action on Southern railways arose as a result of the RMT’s objection to the use of driver-operated trains.

The RMT – which has left-leaning political ties across Europe – claims that this trend will lead to conductors being made redundant by Southern railways.

Southern, on the other hand, argues that driver-operated trains will free-up other members of staff to assist disabled passengers.

The RMT’s position has been criticised as “Luddite” since it is seen to be opposing efficiency and progress in order to prevent the jobs of some of its members from becoming obsolete.

And the new strike action – ostensibly called on the basis of the Eurostar train managers’ “work-life balance” – will once again raise the question of whether millions of railway passengers should continue to be held hostage to the demands of a few self-interested parties.

Eurostar has said that passengers of any cancelled trains will be able to travel on later services, but that is unlikely to prevent calls for Theresa May’s government to take firm action to prevent a repeat of this month’s transport chaos.

Of course, establishing a work-life balance is important.

The right to request flexible working was introduced in 2014 to encourage employers to reasonably consider any request by their employees to amend their hours of work to improve their work-life balance.

Whilst employers are not compelled to approve any such request, they may only reject a flexible working request if they have a sound business reason for doing so.

This has resulted in a situation where an increasing number of employers approve flexible working requests to encourage an improved work-life balance amongst employees – without businesses being forced to make commercially impracticable decisions.

Critics of the RMT’s persistent strike action might point to flexible working applications as a far less destructive means of achieving a better work-life balance for employees.

But for now it seems that there is little chance of the RMT changing their tactics, and rail passengers will need to prepare themselves to be held to ransom on a regrettably regular basis for some time to come.


For more information on flexible working rights and obligations, contact employment law specialist Will De Fazio-Saunders by email at Will.DeFazio-Saunders@rhw.co.uk, or call 01483 302 000.