THOUSANDS of Brits have been hit by Christmas flight hell as fresh 48-hour rail strikes and a sub-zero ice blast wreak havoc on the nation’s roads.
For the second time this week, members of the RMT Union are staging another round of crippling strikes, fueling a major row over wages and working conditions.
Workers were offered a five per cent pay rise for this year – backdated to January – with a further four per cent at the start of 2023 and a guarantee that no forced jobs will be lost by January 2025.
However, unlike members of the Unite and TSSA unions, they turned down employer Network Rail’s offer and a 48-hour strike began on Friday.
And heavy snowfall in parts of the country has added to travel chaos with grounded flights and closed roads as Britain grinds to a halt.
The Met Office has urged motorists and train and plane passengers to be cautious and expect delays and cancellations.
Commuters braved arctic conditions as they crowded the streets in cars as the latest round of industrial action began.
Passengers at Stanstead Airport complained of long waits on the tarmac while crews desperately tried to clear a path for takeoff.
And 22 flights from Glasgow were canceled on Friday, while arriving planes to Edinburgh were diverted as runways were hit by persistent snow and freezing rain.
The weekend isn’t looking much better as the Met Office predicts up to four inches of snow will fall within a matter of hours on Friday.
Forecasters say negative temperatures are expected on Saturday, while more snow is likely on Sunday, particularly across much of Scotland.
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for parts of the country from 7am Saturday to 9pm Sunday.
RMT boss Mick Lynch has been accused of ruining the start of the Christmas outing as Brits struggle to return to their families and attend festive parties.
Business also suffered badly on Black Eye Friday, one of the busiest days of the year, as the normally busy Oxford Street was dead silent.
He met with Rail Minister Huw Merriman and Network Rail chiefs last night to see if progress could be made in the months-long dispute.
“We exchanged some ideas and some possibilities, there were no negotiations, nothing concrete came of it,” Mr Lynch said this morning.
“But what he did, after hearing that as a presenter, how they describe themselves and the people who ultimately own the purses, is he invited us and asked that we get together and have more conversations, and we will do that in the next period if the companies want to get involved.”
Bus drivers employed by Abellio in south and west London also launched a 48-hour straight industrial dispute over pay on Friday.
Her union, Unite, claims employers have not had “meaningful” talks about raises.
Brits face days of chaos and disruption this festive season as workers take part in industrial action in a number of sectors.
Around 1,000 Border Force officers are due to leave airports across the UK for 8 days from December 23.
Holidaymakers are already confronted with massive queues in the terminals when the Christmas hustle and bustle begins.
Passengers at Bristol and Manchester airports who escaped the UK’s sub-zero temperatures had to wait a long time for their celebratory getaways this morning.
Yesterday the nurses went on strike for the first time in their union’s history.
Ministers claim a whopping 70,000 doctor’s appointments have been canceled as a result.
And this morning NHS Providers Chief Executive Saffron Cordery told BBC Radio 4 the strike has resulted in 40 to 60 per cent of routine surgeries in affected hospitals being suspended.
She said: “I think we know there have been some real pressure points in emergency rooms, for example, including things like slowly moving patients out of those departments.
“It’s fair to say there has been a relatively significant impact and I think it’s been a very demanding day overall on the NHS frontline.”
In the meantime, more than 10,000 rescue workers are expected to stop their work next Wednesday.
The army will step in to ensure patients can still be taken to hospital in an emergency.
However, some people with less serious injuries may need to be transported in government TAXIS block bookings to NHS trusts as staff shortages hit.
GMB union members rejected a 4 per cent wage increase as a “real cut in conditions” amid rising 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 from picket lines.
However, there will be delays for less serious incidents, and countless other regions are still refusing to say what they will do.
Elderly people who fall may not be able to get an ambulance until they are stuck on the ground for at least four hours.
Ambulance chiefs are still negotiating with local union representatives over the 999 emergency number.
A new Tory civil war broke out yesterday over whether the salary offer for nurses should be increased.
Former party leader Jake Berry told TalkTV that the current government offer is “too low”.
And Steve Brine, chair of Parliament’s Health Committee, added: “I think a reasonable response would be to send it back to the Pay Review Board.”
But Health Secretary Maria Caulfield pointed to Liz Truss’ disastrous mini-budget as why the borrowing can’t be used to fund bigger pay rises.
She said that for every one per cent pay increase it would cost “around £700m” for the government to come up with.