Unions consider more rail strikes: Many commuters take the day off work

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The Independent Online
COMMUTERS could face more rail disruption after taking the day off yesterday when services were brought to a virtual standstill by a one-day national strike.

Leaders of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) meet on Monday and will consider further stoppages in their campaign to get guarantees of no compulsory redundancies. The train drivers' union, Aslef, is also balloting its members on industrial action with the result due at the end of next week.

The strike by 60,000 RMT members prevented trains running on all but two of BR's lines. Miners and London bus workers were also on strike, although pits in Nottinghamshire continued to produce coal.

Yesterday's disruption was part of a day of action across the continent of Europe when tens of thousands of workers went on strike in a co- ordinated protest against unemployment, now affecting 17 million people and due to peak at 18.5 million in the EC next year.

The action, organised by the European Trades Union Confederation (ETUC) in Brussels, was intended to be a show of strength by European unions in the face of high unemployment and threats to EC social policies.

Jimmy Knapp, general secretary of the RMT, which believes up to 20,000 jobs could go in the run-up to privatisation, was 'heartened by the supportive attitude of the travelling public who are also obviously concerned about unemployment generally and the condition of the railway'.

John Major said the strike, which cost BR pounds 10m in lost revenue, was a 'pointless enterprise'.

Expected traffic jams failed to materialise, with motoring organisations reporting roads quieter than usual.

BR said it expected services to be back to normal by mid-morning today. Limited services were run yesterday by non-union staff from Marylebone to Banbury and Aylesbury, and between Victoria and Crystal Palace.

Most of the 30,000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers obeyed a national strike call in protest at pit closures and job losses. Manton, a pit in the Yorkshire coalfield, produced coal in the morning before shutting down when the afternoon shift failed to report for work.

Collieries where the Union of Democratic Mineworkers were in the majority stayed at work. The results of a strike ballot by UDM members will be announced on Monday.

Arthur Scargill, NUM president, warned a rally in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, to be prepared for further strikes.

London bus workers held their third stoppage over pay cuts and longer hours.

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