Travel strikes: Your questions answered

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southern Rail trainsImage source, Getty Images

With pre-Christmas strikes planned on the rail network and by airlines, thousands of travellers are set to be affected over the festive period. Here, we try to answer some of your questions.

Are any other rail companies planning to strike over the Christmas period?

Southern Rail is the only rail company affected by planned strike action, on Tuesday 20 December and 31 December until 2 January. Gatwick Express services will also be affected on these dates.

But there are lots of lines which will be affected by maintenance work over the festive period: there are no less than 200 engineering projects planned.

No train services will run on Christmas Day and few services operate on Boxing Day.

Elsewhere, major disruptions include:

  • All lines will be closed between London Paddington and Ealing Broadway between 24 and 29 December
  • As a result of this there will be no trains to or from London Paddington, including Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express services
  • Arriva Trains Wales services between Manchester Piccadilly and Warrington Bank Quay will be replaced by buses
  • Manchester Oxford Road and Deansgate stations will be closed to trains on 27 December and from 31 December to 2 January
  • Northern trains between Manchester Airport, Blackpool North and Barrow-in-Furness are being diverted, running from Manchester Victoria instead

Plan ahead with National Rail to avoid (more) frustration.

Image source, EPA

What is Labour's view on these strikes?

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, has criticised Southern Rail and told the public to remember "it takes two to cause a strike".

She said that despite being potentially "disastrous" for people over Christmas, workers had the legal right to strike.

This comes after slightly less sympathetic comments from her Labour colleague Meg Hillier, Public Accounts Committee chairman, who said unions needed a "wake-up call" about the impact on hard-working people over Christmas. She warned "they could be shooting themselves in the foot".

Prime Minister Theresa May asked Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to condemn the strikes. He has not.

Image source, PA

How can I find out if strikes by BA cabin crew and airport baggage handlers will affect my flight?

British Airways says it plans to run a full schedule on Christmas Day and Boxing Day despite the proposed industrial action by cabin crew belonging to the Unite union.

However, people booked on certain short-haul flights to and from Heathrow on 25 and 26 December can rebook if they would like.

Rebooking is permitted on flights to and from Aberdeen, Basel, Belfast, Bergen, Bilbao, Bologna, Budapest, Dusseldorf, Gibraltar, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Hanover, Helsinki, Kiev, Krakow, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Manchester, Marseille, Oslo, Paris Orly, Pisa, Prague, Stavanger, St Petersburg, Stuttgart, Vienna, Venice, Warsaw and Zagreb.

As always check the BA website for the most up-to-date information. The airline's Twitter account is also useful.

Members of the Unite union employed by Swissport, who work on behalf of airlines as baggage handlers, have cancelled the industrial action planned for 23 and 24 December 2016.

Why is it not compulsory for companies and workers in dispute to attend conciliation until the matter is resolved?

Conciliation is the process offered to both sides of a dispute, with the aim of settling the matter without the need for a legal claim to be lodged.

It is facilitated by a conciliation service such as Acas.

However, it is voluntary and neither party is legally obliged to take part in conciliation and can stop whenever they wish.

This, according to industrial relations expert Prof Roger Seifert, is quite simply because by definition, you cannot force an agreement.

Image source, PA

If I'm only allowed to take hand luggage on a flight due to strike action, despite booking and paying for hold luggage, can I claim compensation?

On Tuesday, it was announced that a strike by airport baggage handlers planned for 23 and 24 December had been called off.

Unite had said more than 1,500 workers at Swissport would walk out for 48 hours from 23 December in a row over pay and conditions.

But in this instance, if action had gone ahead, compensation would not have been an option according to the Civil Aviation Authority.

The European regulation that gives passengers the right to claim if checked luggage is lost, delayed or damaged cannot be used in this case.

Unfortunately strike action is one such "extraordinary circumstance" under which airline operators are not liable to pay out.

In a situation like this, there is a chance the airline would get the luggage to you on a later flight once the strike is over.

But to avoid turning up at the airport with a full suitcase, only to be told you cannot take it with you, check with your airline for the latest advice.

Image source, EPA

Would these strikes be taking place at all if staff were given the same pay rises as MPs?

From April, MPs are expected to get 1.4% increase, bringing their salaries from £74,962 to £76,011.

BA cabin crew belonging to Unite voted to reject a 2% pay rise. They argue staff who joined since 2010 on "mixed fleet" contracts are starting on just over £12,000 plus £3 an hour flying pay.

Workers on Southern rail are striking over the guards' roles on new trains. Unions argue there are safety concerns over drivers taking on responsibility for opening and closing doors.

Thousands of Post Office workers are protesting against pension changes, job security and closures. Weetabix workers have voted to strike in the new year over new shift patterns.