Rail chaos for millions as unions plan first UK strike in 20 years

Move comes as Tories crack down on strike action

As the Tories scrabble to pass laws making it harder for unions to pass strike action, the country is facing the first national rail strike in 20 years.

The strike action by Network Rail workers is expected to affect millions of commuters across Britain.

Network Rail accused the unions of “holding the country to ransom”.

The move, by the RMT union, comes as the Tories plan to introduce legislation that would prevent strike action without at least 50% turnout in a vote and 40% voting in favour.

But even under the proposed new rules the strike would be legitimate, as 60% of RMT members turned out to vote and 80% voted in favour.

The strike is in response to an offer from rail bosses of a one-off £500 payment to workers and three years of pay rises in line with inflation.

Mike Cash, the head of the RMT union, said: “It is now down to Network Rail to start taking this issue seriously, to understand the deep-seated grievance felt by their staff and to come forward with a renewed offer which protects pay and jobs.”

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “It cannot be right that the unions can hold the country to ransom in this way. Industrial action would have a massive impact on millions of passengers as well as freight distribution across Britain.”

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