THOUSANDS of Brits have been hit by Christmas getaway hell as fresh 48-hour rail strikes and a sub-zero ice blast brings chaos to the nation’s roads.
Members of the RMT Union staged another round of crippling strikes for the second time this week, ramping up a major dispute over pay and conditions.
Workers were offered a five per cent pay rise for this year — backdated to January — with another four per cent at the start of 2023 and a guarantee of no compulsory job losses until January 2025.
But they rejected the offer from employer Network Rail, unlike members of the Unite and TSSA unions.
And heavy snow in parts of the country has added to travel chaos with flights grounded and roads closed as the UK ground to a halt.
The Met Office has urged motorists, as well as train and plane passengers, to take care and expect delays and cancellations.
Commuters braved arctic conditions as they crammed into cars on the roads as the latest round of industrial action got underway.
Passengers at Stanstead Airport were left complaining of long waits on the tarmac as crews desperately tried to clear the path for take-off.
En 22 flights out of Glasgow have been cancelled so far today while incoming planes were diverted to Edinburgh as runways were hit by persistent snow and freezing rain.
The weekend is not looking much better with the Met Office predicting up to four inches of snow will fall within hours on Friday.
Forecasters say sub-zero conditions are expected on Saturday, while more snow is likely on Sunday, especially across much of Scotland.
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for parts of the country from 7am on Saturday until 9pm on Sunday.
RMT Chief Mick Lynch has been accused of wrecking the start of the Christmas getaway as Brits struggled to travel back to their families and attend festive parties.
Businesses also suffered badly on “Black Eye Friday”, one of busiest days of the year, with the usually bustling Oxford Street deathly quiet.
Gisteraand, he met with Rail Minister Huw Merriman and Network Rail bosses to see if any progress could be made in the months-long dispute.
“We exchanged some ideas and some possibilities, there was no negotiations at that, nothing arising tangible out of that,” Mr Lynch said this morning.
“But what he did having heard that as the facilitator, as they describe themselves and the people that ultimately own the purse strings, is he invited us and requested that we get together and hold further talks going forward and we’ll do that in the next period if the companies want to get engaged in it.”
Bus drivers employed by Abellio in South and West London have also kicked off 48-hours of industrial action today in a row over pay.
Their union Unite claim employers haven’t engaged in “meaningful” talks about salary hikes.
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Brits gesig days of chaos and disruption this festive season as workers across a range of sectors take part industrial action.
Rondom 1,000 Border Force officials are due to walk out of airports across Britain for 8 days from December 23.
Already holidaymakers are facing massive queues in terminals as the Christmas rush gets underway.
Passengers at Bristol and Manchester Airport escaping sub-zero temperatures in Britain braved lengthy waits this morning for their festive getaways.
Gister, nurses went on strike for the first time in their union’s history.
Ministers claim a whopping 70,000 medical appointments were cancelled as a result.
And this morning Chief Executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery told BBC Radio 4 the strike caused 40 – 60 per cent of routine operations in affected hospitals to be canned.
Sy het gese: “I think we do know that there were some real pressure points around emergency departments, byvoorbeeld, including things like the slow transfer of patients out of those departments.
“It’s fair to say that there’s been a relatively significant impact and I think it was a very demanding day overall, on the front line in the NHS.”
Intussen, next Wednesday more than 10,000 ambulance workers are expected to withdraw their labour.
The army will step in to ensure patients can still be rushed to hospital in an emergency.
But some people suffering less serious injuries might have to be transported to NHS trusts in TAXIS block-booked by the government as staff shortages take hold.
GMB union members rejected a 4 per cent hike in pay as a “real terms cut” in light of soaring inflation.
Only the South East Coast Ambulance Service has agreed a limited deal to answer all top priority 1 calls — even if staff have to come off picket lines.
But less serious incidents will face delays and countless other regions are still refusing to say what they will do.
Elderly people who fall may not get an ambulance until they have been stuck on the floor for four hours or more.
Ambulance bosses are continuing to negotiate 999 cover with local union reps.
Gister, a fresh bout of Tory civil war emerged over whether to increase the pay offer for nurses.
Former party chairman Jake Berry told TalkTV that the current government offer is “too low”.
And Steve Brine, chairman of Parliament’s heath committee, bygevoeg: “I think sending it back to the pay review body would be a sensible answer.”
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But Health Minister Maria Caulfield pointed to the disastrous Liz Truss mini-budget as to why borrowing cannot be used to fund bigger pay rises.
She said for every one per cent pay rise, it will cost “around £700million” that the Government would have to find.