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Rail strikes: anger as UK government refuses to join last-ditch talks

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The government is facing growing anger over its refusal to join last-ditch talks to avert the biggest rail strike for three decades, with millions of people facing a week of cancelled trains and union leaders warning industrial action could spread.With 40,000 rail workers due to join three daylong walkouts this week, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, insisted it was not the government’s job to negotiate with the unions over pay, conditions, job cuts and safety.But Jake Berry, a Conservative MP and former rail minister, was among those who said ministers should get around the table with Network Rail – which is government-owned – train operators and the unions.The strike is due to start on Tuesday, followed by further strike days on Thursday and Saturday, with RMT union members walking out.

Because of knock-on disruption, a special timetable will be in operation from Monday, with some evening services curbed, until Sunday.

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