EconomyFirstFT: UK faces days of rail disruption

FirstFT: UK faces days of rail disruption

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The largest rail strikes in a generation will begin today after the failure of last-minute talks, as the head of the Trades Union Congress warned that workers in other industries would also be balloted for “pay justice”.

Forty thousand Network Rail staff and workers at 13 train operating companies will walk out in a dispute over pay, working practices and possible redundancies, with further strikes planned for Thursday and Saturday and disruption set to last all week. London Underground staff will also strike today.

Passengers were warned not to travel by train unless necessary, with only a fifth of trains expected to run and many lines closed.

Mick Lynch, head of the rail union, blamed the government for “shackling” the industry’s pay offers and using Covid-19 as an excuse to impose “transport austerity”, including closing all ticket offices.

RMT bosses rejected a Network Rail offer of a 3 per cent pay rise, with scope for more in exchange for modernising working practices, one industry executive said.

  • Explainer: How wide-ranging will the action be, how much impact will it have — and is Britain heading for a summer of strikes?

  • In markets: International investors snapping up UK assets have turned their attention to train and bus companies that emerged from mass privatisations.

How might the strike affect you? Do you support it? Share your thoughts with and we may feature your response in an upcoming newsletter. Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of the day’s news — Jennifer

1. EY partners eye $8mn each in shares The Big Four firm’s plan to split its audit and advisory operations is set to hand partners shares worth up to $8mn each, according to individuals with knowledge of internal plans. FT accountancy correspondent Michael O’Dwyer breaks down the planned split — and how EY intends to keep 13,000 partners happy.

2. Russia threatens retaliation against Lithuania Moscow lashed out yesterday after the Baltic state halted rail transport over the weekend of Russian goods subject to EU sanctions to the exclave of Kaliningrad, including iron, steel and luxury items. Lithuania controls the only overland rail route linking Kaliningrad with mainland Russia.

More on the war in Ukraine

  • Fossil fuel ‘backsliding’: European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warned member states not to backtrack on the long-term drive to cut fossil fuel use as some prepared to fire up coal plants to replace Russian gas supplies.

  • In Musk’s world: China is piling pressure on Tesla after Elon Musk sent Starlink satellite kits to Ukraine, stoking alarm in Beijing about the reach of the “US space military industrial complex”.

  • Opinion: President Vladimir Putin has taken Russia back to the imperialism, autocracy and isolation of the Soviet period, writes Gideon Rachman.

Lithuania map

3. BoE official warns of higher inflation Catherine Mann, one of the Bank of England’s more hawkish policymakers, has warned of further price rises if the UK central bank fails to increase interest rates as rapidly as the US Federal Reserve, which would cause the value of the pound to slip.

4. Israel faces fifth election in three years Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said parliament would vote on dissolving itself next week, after the premier and foreign minister Yair Lapid said they had “exhausted options to stabilise” their coalition government. Voting will probably begin in October.

5. Bruce Buck stands down as Chelsea FC chair One of Roman Abramovich’s closest confidants is stepping down from the football club following the £2.5bn sale of the English Premier League side. Buck took the role after advising the Russian oligarch on his £140mn takeover in 2003.

The day ahead

Economic data In the UK, Kantar releases monthly grocery market share figures, while US existing home sales are expected to decline in May for the fourth straight month on rising mortgage rates. Bank of England chief economist Huw Pill takes part in a panel at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales East of England’s economic summit. The 2022 Consumer Goods Forum summit begins in Dublin. (FT, WSJ)

Summer solstice It is the longest day of the year and the first day of summer for those north of the equator.

What else we’re reading

Cyril Ramaphosa’s image as a reformer at threat The details are as garish as any South African true crime story: wads of cash stuffed into sofa cushions on a rich man’s remote game farm, easy pickings for thieves who disappear in an apparent cover-up. But the scandal is playing out at the heart of Ramaphosa’s presidency.

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa
Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, has admitted a robbery took place at his home in 2020 but has denied any wrongdoing © Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

Can the ECB prevent a second euro crisis? The European Central Bank has moved quickly on the “fragmentation” of the bloc’s sovereign bond market. Investors will deduce the central bank’s point of intolerance from intervention, writes Eric Lonergan, fund manager at M&G.

President Uhuru Kenyatta: We need malaria vaccines Commonwealth leaders meeting in Rwanda’s capital this week have an opportunity to accelerate the fight against infectious diseases, including the deadliest one across Africa: malaria, writes the Kenyan leader.

Marine Le Pen is ‘back in the game’ For over a decade, Le Pen’s success in pushing her far-right party into France’s political mainstream has revolved around one yardstick: the presidential race, which she has lost three times. Now, with a breakthrough 89 National Assembly seats, Rassemblement National stands to become a parliamentary force on immigration and crime.

How Disney lost Florida The goodwill the group had built among LGBTQ employees has been stretched to breaking point following its botched response to a controversial Florida bill, labelled “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, to restrict discussion of sexual or gender identity in primary schools.


FT science editor Clive Cookson lists his five favourite books of the year, including a self-help guide for people keen to sleep better, a concise history of the rise and fall of eugenics, a look at science’s biggest controversies and more.

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