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World News

Rail chaplain fears increase in assaults on staff as strikes take hold

by Donna Birrell

A railway chaplain says he's concerned that there may be an increase in assaults on staff at stations because of strike action in the run-up to Christmas.

Rail passengers are facing "significant" disruption after 40-thousand workers began the first of four walkouts this week. It comes after the RMT union rejected wage rises of eight percent over two years.

Andrew Hall is area manager for Railway Mission in the North and also chaplain for the West Midlands. He’s been speaking to Premier about remembering the Gospel message even when tensions are running high.

He said: “I think generally in the country, at the moment, there's an attitude of unrest and unhappiness with the way things are and a lot of that stems from the beginning of lockdown, wage freezes and all those things that have applied over the last few years. It all seems to have got to a head in the rail industry and other areas of society.

“I understand the attitudes of the public in terms of getting around on the rail network, I'm on one of them. There are hardship issues developing, as a result of strikes, that also people who haven't had any wage increases are feeling the pinch, particularly with the way the economy is at the moment.

“I think one thing, we need to bear in mind is that we're in the Christmas period, where we're happy to preach peace and goodwill toward men. We talk about the light of the world coming into the darkness and that is a message that needs to go out to everyone in this situation.

“There will be an increased amount of assaults on staff because of this, and that's an area that we have great concern over because we're there to support the staff and the welfare of the staff.

“So our message would be to all of those frustrated by the situation, that we can operate in an attitude of peace and goodwill, and still go about our legitimate business and express our legitimate claims on protest.

“Let’s pray that that attitude, that dynamic of peace, would enter into the equation and that the light of the world, the light that was coming into the world, that people may actually grasp the real understanding of what that means.

“We are in a dark situation, politically and economically, but there is light and that light is embodied in the person of Jesus Christ and his message.”




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