UK rail workers go on strike again over pay dispute

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. paltry / ˈpɔl tri / (adj.) – very small in amount

    The company offered him a paltry salary, so he didn’t accept the job offer.

  2. drastic / ˈdræs tɪk / (adj.) – extreme in effect or action

    Employees have to go through several types of training since the company made drastic changes to the day-to-day operations.

  3. stage / steɪdʒ / (v.) – to organize and participate in an event intended to get public attention

    The factory workers staged a protest after months of having unfavorable working conditions.

  4. crippling / ˈkrɪp lɪŋ / (adj.) – causing a serious damage or problem

    The company was in debt due to crippling interest rates.

  5. soaring / ˈsɔr ɪŋ / (adj.) – increasing quickly to a high level

    The local government was alarmed by the soaring crime rate in the city.


Read the text below.

British rail workers went on strike on July 27 over an ongoing pay dispute, a month after the country’s most disruptive railway strike in three decades paralyzed train networks across the U.K.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers said earlier its members would walk out for 24 hours, threatening travel chaos during the busy summer holidays.

Union leaders said they have rejected a new pay rise offer from Network Rail to resolve the dispute over jobs, pay and working conditions. They said the “paltry sum” is conditional on union members agreeing to “drastic changes in their working lives.”

“The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay,” the union’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said.

“Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes until we get a negotiated settlement,” he added.

The union staged three strikes last month that saw 40,000 workers walk off their jobs, crippling services across the country.

It said the government’s new offer was for a 4% pay rise, another 2% next year and a further 2% conditional on achieving “modernization milestones.”

Union leaders say that isn’t enough amid soaring inflation — currently at 9.1% — and the worst cost of living crisis in decades.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • What do you think should be done to prevent union strikes from happening and paralyzing certain operations (ex. consult employees when creating policies, have a better forum for workers’ complaints)? Discuss.
  • Do you think the government or businesses should give the workers’ demands in case of a strike? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think companies should raise workers’ pay based on the inflation rate? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What do you think the workers should do to keep up with inflation (ex. find other sources of income, start investing)? Discuss.