To strike or not to strike, well that is the question. But, is it easy to answer for it all depends on who you believe, for it could be that each party is exaggerating the areas in question.
It is true that inflation has begun to rise, now 9.1% from the similar period last year, so say, a 3% salary increase would be, in real terms’ a wage cut. It is also said that due to COVID and persons working from home there has been a reduction in rail travel of say, 20% and by striking this reduction could well increase and be hard to recover, especially in the short term.
The government could do more for all UK workers by bringing in tax cuts to Income tax, thereby increasing net pay, by reducing the rate of VAT, which would reduce, to some extent, the costs of goods and services, but would mean there would be less revenue for the Government, thereby to recover this shortfall some Government spending could have to reduced, which could lead to some services being reduced, especially those funding by Local Authorities, as, to a large extent the Government funds Local Authorities. But there are other services and organisations which are funded by the Government, including the Police, the armed services, the NHS, etc., so funding could have to be cut to these organisations and services.
With the railways some alterations to working conditions could be a solution to save on costs and release more money for salaries, as there are some restrictive practices. Some of these are relating to work processes before modernisations or automations were made, such as ticket machines instead of ticket booking offices. But the Unions appear to be against alterations affecting the reductions in the workforce due to these modernisations and automations, so staff are effectively having less to do. There are also possible future automations, such as driverless trains, automated track inspections, automated signaling and others.
But there is something which has not been mentioned to any large degree and that is the large pay gap from the lowest paid workers to that of the highest paid workers, of which the highest would be the Chief Executives, so the highest paid could have there salaries restricted to a certain percentage increase above that of the lowest paid.
Much needs to be looked at and nothing should be off the table, including compulsory arbitration on all parties, with strikes being not required.