Fresh strike date set by rail union in pay and conditions dispute
Union leaders made the announcement after rejecting a new offer from Network Rail which they described as “paltry”.
The offer was for a 4% pay rise backdated to January, another 2% next year and a further 2% conditional on achieving “modernisation milestones”.
The RMT said it has yet to receive a pay offer or guarantees over job losses from the train operating companies (TOCs).
The RMT said it will be consulting other unions that have delivered mandates for strike action in the coming days, amid talk of co-ordinated walkouts.
Members of the drivers’ union Aslef and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at train companies have backed industrial action in recent days.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The offer from Network Rail represents a real terms pay cut for our members and the paltry sum is conditional on RMT members agreeing to drastic changes in their working lives.
“We have made progress on compulsory redundancies, but Network Rail are still seeking to make our members poorer when we have won in some cases double what they are offering, with other rail operators.
“The train operating companies remain stubborn and are refusing to make any new offer which deals with job security and pay.
“Strike action is the only course open to us to make both the rail industry and Government understand that this dispute will continue for as long as it takes, until we get a negotiated settlement.
“The public who will be inconvenienced by our strike action need to understand that it is the Government’s shackling of Network Rail and the TOCs that means the rail network will be shut down for 24 hours.”
The RMT held three strikes last month which crippled services across the country.
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “This latest round of action will cause more misery for millions and take money out of the industry at a time when passenger numbers remain 20% below pre-pandemic levels, making it harder to afford a pay increase.
“We want to give our people a pay raise, but to do that we have bring working practices that are in some cases decades-old up to date so that we can adapt to new, more leisure-led travel patterns – including making Sunday part of the standard working week so that services are more reliable at weekends.
“The alternative is asking taxpayers to shoulder the burden after contributing over £600 per household to keep the railway running during the pandemic, or asking passengers to pay even higher fares when they too are feeling the pinch – and that simply isn’t fair.
“Instead of staging more counterproductive strikes, we ask the RMT to come back to the table so we can deliver a deal that works for our people, our passengers and for taxpayers.”
Almost 700 TSSA members at Great Western Railway (GWR), Greater Anglia and TransPennine Express have voted for industrial action in a dispute over pay, conditions and job security.
Members at GWR backed strikes and other forms of industrial action and passed the required threshold for both.
Those at Greater Anglia and TransPennine Express voted in favour of strikes and action short of a strike, but the legal threshold for a strike ballot was not met.
The union is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which reflects the escalating cost of living.
TSSA has not named dates for industrial action at these companies but will consider next steps with workplace reps.
Disputes are escalating across the rail industry, with the growing likelihood of widespread disruption.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “This is a great set of result for our union and comes hard on the heels of similar votes at a raft of other train operating companies and our Network Rail members.
“The results demonstrate that our members are utterly determined to fight for their pay, jobs and conditions via strike action or action short of a strike, which means they can’t cover for other trade unions’ members taking strike action.
“They are right to do so amid the escalating Tory cost-of-living crisis and with a chaotic Government hell-bent on making swingeing cuts to our rail network while inflation rages.
“It would be unwise for any rail company to ignore the feelings of our membership. We are already in the process of speaking to workplace reps about next steps in this dispute.
“If ministers had any sense they would come to the table and sort this out, so we have a fair settlement for workers who were hailed as heroes in the pandemic.”
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