Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 13:01 UK

Talks to end further rail strike

Picket line at Norwich train station
The strike is by the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Aslef unions

Talks are due to take place on Tuesday in a bid to avert further strikes over pay by rail workers on National Express East Anglia train services.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Aslef unions walked out for 48 hours last week with another two-day strike planned for Thursday.

The RMT confirmed that talks with the company would take place.

If the action goes ahead, services in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and into London will be hit.

The Stansted airport service will also be affected.

The RMT and Aslef said members had "solidly supported" the first walkout.

'Struggling businesses'

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the strike had been caused by National Express bosses keen to "milk every penny" from their franchise.

Andrew Chivers, managing director of National Express East Anglia, said: "The unions' demands are totally unrealistic, especially in this current economic climate.

"We have offered salary increases above the rate of inflation, and remain available at any time for discussions.

"Strike action is unnecessary, simply not the solution and I would like to apologise to our customers."

Essex County Council also urged the unions to halt the planned strikes.

Councillor Norman Hume said: "With many businesses struggling in the downturn the last thing we need is a whole summer of this disruption causing damage to the economy in Essex and major inconvenience for many of our residents.

"Such action will simply alienate residents and is counterproductive. I am urging the unions to call off the strike and resolve the dispute amicably."

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