Threat of Rail Strikes

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The RMT union, representing rail workers in the UK yesterday called for one-day stoppages for 25 June and 4 July in support of a demand for changes in the railway companies' operating rules.

The rule change is being demanded as the union claims that it "downgrades" the existing role of railway guards and should be abolished. The RMT represents some 6,000 of the UK's 10,000 guards.

The railway companies say that the operating Rule Book is produced by a subsidiary of Railtrack, Railway Safety, and that they do not have the power to change it. They have called on the union to approach Rail Safety directly with a view to co-operating over risk assessment for railway guards. Representing the railway companies, the Association of Train Operating Companies, said that they did not believe the strikes to have a legal basis and they would be prepared to challenge the strike action in court.

If the strikes go ahead, the effect is expected to be patchy.

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