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Driver walkout halts trains as UK summer strike wave spreads

LONDON (AP) A large number of U.K. train drivers walked off the work Saturday in a strike over jobs, pay and conditions, scuppering services across a lot of the united states. The action was the most recent in a spreading group of strikes by British workers seeking substantial raises to offset soaring charges for food and fuel.

The 24-hour strike by members of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen halted trains on major routes, like the main lines between London and Scotland and commuter services round the capital.

Weekend workers, soccer fans at risk of games and families seeking seaside solace from the heat wave were the type of forced to improve their plans.

It has been a summer of travel disruption in Britain. A large number of railway cleaners, signalers, maintenance workers staged a number of one-day strikes in June and July. More strikes are scheduled in a few days on nationwide trains and on Londons bus and subway network.

The disputes focus on pay, working conditions and job security as Britains railways battle to adjust to travel and commuting habits changed perhaps forever by the coronavirus pandemic.

There have been almost 1 billion train journeys in the U.K. in the entire year to March, in comparison to 1.7 billion in the 12 months prior to the pandemic, and rail companies want to spend less and staffing after 2 yrs where emergency government funding kept them afloat.

Unions accuse Britains Conservative government of preventing train companies which are privately owned but heavily regulated from creating a better offer.

We find ourselves ready where we have been saying That wont be adequate, they state Its right down to the federal government, we speak to the government plus they say You must speak to the employers, and we end up getting a predicament where it goes round and round in circles, said Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen.

The Department for Transport said claims of government meddling were entirely false.

More public- and private-sector unions are organizing strikes as Britain faces its worst cost-of-living crisis in decades. Postal workers, lawyers, British Telecom staff, dock workers and garbage collectors have all announced walkouts for later this month.

U.K. inflation has hit a 40-year most of 9.4%, and the lender of England says it might rise to 13% amid a recession later this season. The common U.K. household fuel bill has risen a lot more than 50% up to now in 2022 because the war in Ukraine squeezes global oil and gas supplies. Another increase arrives in October, once the average bill is forecast going to 3,500 pounds ($4,300) per year.

Increasing the travel chaos, air travelers in lots of countries are facing delays and disruption as airports battle to deal with staff shortages and skyrocketing demand for flights after two pandemic-hit years.

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