Train strikes: RMT members reject latest Network Rail pay offeron December 12, 2022 at 4:33 pm

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Walkouts will resume on Tuesday after RMT union members rejected what it called a “substandard” deal.

Man at train stationImage source, Getty Images

Members of the UK’s largest rail union have rejected a pay offer from Network Rail, dashing hopes of minimising strike action.

Network Rail, which owns and maintains the railways, offered workers a 5% pay rise this year and a 4% rise in 2023.

But RMT union boss Mick Lynch described the deal as “substandard”, as 63.6% of members rejected the deal.

Strikes will resume on Tuesday and passengers have been advised to travel only if it is absolutely necessary.

Union members who work for Network Rail as well as for 14 train companies will stage walkouts this week, firstly on Tuesday and Wednesday and then on Friday 16 December and Saturday 17 December.

It was also announced last week that RMT members at Network Rail, of which there are about 20,000, will take further industrial action from 18:30 on Christmas Eve until 06:00 on 27 December.

Workers at the train companies will then go on strike between 3-4 January and 6-7 January.

The industrial action is part of a long-running dispute between the RMT, which represents about 40,000 staff across the rail industry, and the train operators and Network Rail over pay, jobs and conditions.

Along with the pay rises, Network Rail offered its staff other benefits including discounted rail travel for family and friends.

But the deal also depended on big changes to working practices in its maintenance teams, which would involve 1,900 job losses, though Network Rail has insisted this could be achieved by voluntary means.

The company has said there would be a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until the end of January 2025.

Chart showing when railway strikes are

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the vote, which saw an 83% turnout, represented a “huge rejection” of Network Rail’s offer.

“The government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain,” he said.

“We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.”

Other unions are also involved in the dispute and Unite, which represents just over 50 electrical control room operators, accepted Network Rail’s pay offer.

“Industrial action by our members scheduled to take place over December and January will now not take place,” said Unite national officer Harish Patel.

Workers are calling for better conditions and pay rises to match the pace of inflation, with the cost of living rising at its fastest rate for more than 40 years.

On Saturday Mr Lynch called on the prime minister to meet him to attempt to resolve the dispute.

But on Monday Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “We are not seeking to impose government over and above either the independent pay review process or ongoing discussions between employers and the unions.

“We won’t be changing the process.”

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