Tory MPs warn outrageous rail strikes putting lives of the vulnerable at risk’

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Conservatives said it was “absolutely outrageous” walkouts were going ahead despite the major impact they will have on the vulnerable.

Professor Sir Stephen Powis, the national medical director for the NHS in England, has insisted the health service “remains open” but urged patients to use alternative transport.

Ahead of the first dose of travel misery on Tuesday, he said: “I am urging those who have appointments booked in to plan ahead and look at alternative options for getting to their GP practice or hospital if needed.

“The NHS sees millions of people every week for urgent and routine care and it is vital that people access the care they need despite disruptions – the NHS remains open, so please do continue to come forward.”

London hospitals are expected to be particularly affected as they have limited parking capacity for those considering driving as an alternative.

But the strikes will hit all corners of England. Tory MP Richard Holden said: “It’s absolutely outrageous that Labour’s paymasters are putting the lives of British people at risk, especially as we are only just starting to recover from the pandemic and many people have already had to wait for cancelled operations.

“It’s time for (shadow health secretary) Wes Streeting and the Labour high command to come clean with the British people and tell us whose side they are actually on.”

Half of Britain’s rail lines will be closed during strikes on June 21, 23 and 25 by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

Although the industrial action is limited to three days, it is expected to have a knock-on impact on services for the entire week.

Transport for London has also “strongly encouraged” people not to travel on the London Underground on June 21 because of a 24-hour walkout by the RMT and Unite.

And yet more rail staffers are being balloted for strikes, as unions escalate their disputes over pay and jobs.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) served notice to ballot hundreds of workers at Southeastern, saying it was demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay rise reflecting the soaring cost of living.

It is also balloting members in CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, West Midlands Trains, Avanti West Coast, Northern, Network Rail, LNER and C2C.

General secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Rail workers were hailed as heroes in the pandemic and now they deserve a real-terms pay rise which keeps pace with inflation, rather than shouldering the burden of the Tories’ economic meltdown.

“Our demands are simple – pay which reflects the times we live in [plus] job security and no race to the bottom on terms and conditions.”

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