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A summer of discontent is the unions’ fight for power in the modern workforce

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This week, London was awash with bikes and e-scooters as the biggest rail strikes in thirty years kicked off on Tuesday. Other unions were watching closely as they plan for their own industrial action. Some are calling it the summer of discontent, as a waterfall of job losses and long hours stir up a storm and inflation pushes up prices.

RMT, long cast as the most militant of the unions, has demanded a 7 per cent pay rise, while Network Rail, the employer, is ready to offer 3 or 4 per cent in return for modernisation. For Mick Lynch, RMT leader, modernisation is a synonym for job cuts.

At the same time, the government has reinstated a pensions triple-lock, which will push pensions and benefits up with inflation, all the while insisting that widespread pay rises would be the making of a wage-price spiral.

Thousands of trains were cancelled and commuters and businesses bore the brunt of the strikes. But, somehow, public support for the strikes has not collapsed as many predicted. Lynch, an outspoken and unceremonious leader, has said more strikes could be on the way if demands aren’t met.

Those at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are........

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