UK rail staff vote for strikes across network, union says

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A train pulls away from London Bridge railway station in London, Britain October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

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LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) - Transport workers have voted in favour of what they said would be the biggest rail strike in Britain for decades, their union said on Tuesday, amid concern the action could lead to food shortages.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said staff working for Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in Britain, and at 14 private companies running train services had backed walkouts or action short of a strike.

The union said it was the biggest endorsement for industrial action since the railways were privatised in the 1990s.

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"Today's overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union's approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies," RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said.

The RMT said the strike action could begin in mid-June.

"We sincerely hope ministers will encourage the employers to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a reasonable settlement with the RMT," Lynch said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Transport Minister Grant Shapps said the government would prioritise the supply of food, goods and energy in the event of widespread strikes.

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Reporting by Michael Holden in London Editing by Matthew Lewis

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