Misery for millions as Mick Lynch rules out cancelling pre-Christmas railway strikes after crucial talks with train bosses

24 November 2022, 14:21 | Updated: 24 November 2022, 16:29

Mick Lynch has refused to cancel rail strikes
Mick Lynch has refused to cancel rail strikes. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Union boss Mick Lynch has said that railway strikes planned for the run-up to Christmas will go ahead, after crunch talks with industry bosses and politicians.

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The RMT chief said that his members were "once bitten, twice shy" after calling off a strike two weeks ago, which he said did not result in any progress in talks over pay and conditions.

Now some 40,000 members across Network, as well as 14 other train operating companies, will walk out on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December, as well as a second wave of strike action on 3, 4, 6 and 7 January.

Union bosses met industry chiefs and transport politicians on Wednesday in a bid to avert the strike.

Mick Lynch speaking to reporters on Thursday
Mick Lynch speaking to reporters on Thursday. Picture: Getty

The RMT boss said the meeting was "positive" because they had "got rid of the bellicose nonsense that we used to have".

"We're now starting to get a dialogue," he told reporters outside the Department for Transport.

He said transport secretary Mark Harper has committed to writing to him saying "how he sees this going forward and taking forward steps towards a resolution".

Mr Lynch said: "What we're chiefly asked him to do... you've heard him say that he's going to be a facilitator towards a settlement or a resolution of the dispute," he said.

Passengers are set for more rail misery
Passengers are set for more rail misery. Picture: Getty

"And we've said to him that there's no good having these warm words, we've heard them from his predecessor, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, but nothing actually happened. So we want him to set down in writing what he's going to do about the mechanics of how a resolution will be facilitated."

Mr Lynch added that he was unclear if the railway executives the union was speaking to even had the power to negotiate.

"At the moment, we've even got doubt about the authority of people we're speaking to, the Rail Delivery Group, and they are telling us they have no authority to negotiate, they do not have a mandate, and they've even put legal challenges to us as to whether they can negotiate at all," the RMT chief told reporters.

Transport secretary Mark Harper
Transport secretary Mark Harper. Picture: Getty

"So we've got a situation where 14 train operating companies are telling us they can't negotiate, and so is their industry group. So I've asked him to set out in writing and clarify what the authority of these people is."

The strikes come in addition to major repair works already scheduled on key rail routes, with the double threat likely to result in many Christmas plans being brought to a halt.

It also follows the Aslef union's announcement that members will hold another strike on 26 November in a dispute over pay.

The pre-existing strike was already scheduled to affect 12 train companies.

Mick Lynch tells LBC he isn't 'Mick Grinch'

Network Rail had already planned engineering works from Friday December 23, until Tuesday January 3, with key routes from London stations cancelled or running reduced services.

The strike comes on the back of six-months of rail disputes over jobs cuts, as well as pay and working terms, with impending travel chaos on the cards.

It's the latest wave of strikes set out by workers, following balloted strike action already announced by members of the postal, civil service and nurses unions.

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