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Glastonbury: Talks to take place this week in bid to avoid rail shutdown

Strikes could spell chaos for Glastonbury-goers travelling down to Somerset

By Nick Reilly

Glastonbury, 2014
Tickets from the cancelled 2020 festival remain valid. (Photo: Anthony Brown/Alamy)

A fresh round of talks will be held this week between unions and rail industry bosses in a new attempt to avoid a week of strikes that could jeopardise travel plans for Glastonbury-goers later this month.

Rail workers belonging to the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union will stage nationwide walk-outs on 21, 23 and 25 June, following a prolonged dispute over pay.

It means those travelling to the iconic festival by train could face severe disruption, with many attendees heading down to Castle Cary station as they prepare to descend on Worthy Farm in Somerset across those dates.

The RMT has confirmed that 50,000 workers will walk out on June 21, with 40,000 more on the subsequent dates, which marks the biggest strike on the railways since 1989.

Network Rail’s chief executive, Andrew Haines, has now said the organisation was working to avert the strike action.

“There are two weeks until the first strike is planned. We will use this time to keep talking to our unions and, through compromise and common sense on both sides, we hope to find a solution and avoid the damage that strike action would cause all involved,” he said.

The RMT remains open to “meaningful proposals” that would secure promises of no compulsory redundancies and address pay for workers.

Speaking to the Today programme, health secretary Sajid Javid described the strikes as “the wrong outcome for the workers as well”.

He said : “Anyone working in this industry, any industry for that matter, you want it to be sustainable for the long term. It’s not possible to keep giving it the same level of support it got during the pandemic.”

Javid also said the government could look at introducing legislation to require that a minimum rail service takes place during strikes.

Rail bosses have also promised that customers who had bought tickets will receive a refund if the rail services cannot be fulfilled.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said yesterday: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry with the support of the government has failed to take their concerns seriously.

“We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1% and rising.

“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system.

“Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic. This unfairness is fuelling our members anger and their determination to win a fair settlement.”

Last week, Glastonbury shared the full line-up and set times for this year’s festival.

Organisers unveiled the first wave of acts in early March, with Billie EilishPaul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar set to top the bill.