London — Britain's six-week rail strike ended Thursday, but the problems have just begun for the state-owned British Rail, Monitor contributor Alexander MacLeod reports.
The work stoppages cost the railroad network an estimated $170 million in lost revenue. Drivers staged up to three one-day nationwide strikes each week, and hundreds of thousands of stranded passengers took to cars and buses. The railroad fears that a sizable number will not go back to their old habit.
In addition, the railroad stands to lose up to $300 million in future freight revenue from companies that began sending cargo by truck. Often the resulting service proved cheaper and more efficient than the trains.
British Rail had refused to pay the engineers an agreed-upon 3 percent pay increase unless the union accepted a new form of flexible work rosters aimed at increasing productivity. In the end the railroad was forced to pay the 3 percent , but obtained no firm commitments from the drivers on productivity.