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Train strikes: RMT members reject latest Network Rail pay offer

Man at train stationGetty Images

Members of the UK’s largest rail union have rejected a pay offer from Network Rail, which means strike action will go ahead as planned on Tuesday.

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.

Network Rail said further walkouts would cause “further misery” for the rail industry.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, urged passengers to “only travel if absolutely necessary”.

Union members who work for Network Rail as well as for 14 train companies will stage walkouts across Britain 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.

  • When are the next train strikes?

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.”

But Network Rail boss Mr Haines said the result of the vote showed there was “clearly a significant number of Network Rail colleagues who want this deal, but are caught up by these needless strikes and collective bargaining”.

Other unions are also involved in the dispute.

Unite, which represents just over 50 electrical control room operators, accepted Network Rail’s pay offer and called off its planned industrial action in December and January.

The TSSA has suspended its strike action at Network Rail while its members vote on the deal.

Mr Haines said: “The RMT are the outliers here, they need to stop playing politics and work with us to bring this dispute to an end.”

The RMT is involved in two negotiating battles, one with Network Rail, where it represents signallers and maintenance workers, and the other with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the 14 train companies.

The union has rejected an offer from the RDG, which included a 4% pay rise both this year and next.

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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