'Provoke us again and we will respond in kind': Mick Lynch issues new threat to government after pay deal halts strikes

30 November 2023, 19:00 | Updated: 1 December 2023, 00:28

An 18-month row over pay, job security and conditions has come to an end, for now
An 18-month row over pay, job security and conditions has come to an end, for now. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

RMT boss Mick Lynch has warned the government "provoke us again and we will respond in kind" after a deal halted his members' long-running train strikes.

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Workers in the biggest rail union voted overwhelmingly to accept a deal to end dispute until the Spring, it was announced on Thursday.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has been embroiled in a bitter pay and conditions row for more than 18 months, taking regular strike action which has caused chaos for passengers.

But the new deal will give its members a backdated pay rise of 5% for 2022-23, and guarantees over job security have been made.

And while Mr Lynch again hit out at the government, he warned Labour would not get an easier ride either - raising the prospect of future strikes if he and his members deem it necessary.

Tonight With Andrew Marr | Watch Again 30/11

Speaking on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Lynch said: "We've got a scheduled programme talks for three months from February to April. That will take us into May.

"We don't know what the world will be like by then it's been very changeable in the last 18 months or so.

Read more: Rail strike threat ends until at least Spring as RMT union votes to accept pay deal

"So we'll see what mood the companies are in, what mood the government is in.

"If they want to provoke us again and bring these sweeping changes and cuts to our conditions, we will respond in kind but we're hoping we can get settled."

The deal ended any fears of action over the Christmas period, which would have frustrated shoppers and people visiting loved ones over the festive season.

He said he wanted to see a new Labour government in power going forward, which would be the "cherry on the top", but admitted while there are "some benefits" he "does not think it is going to be all rosy".

"We think we're going to have to stand up for ourselves under Labour, but it will be mad to vote for a Tory government," he said.

Earlier, he congratulated members on their "steadfastness in this long industrial campaign" as he said the RMT will negotiate with train operators over their proposed reforms.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "This is welcome news for passengers and a significant step towards resolving industrial disputes on the railway, giving workers a pay rise before Christmas and a pathway to delivering long overdue reforms.

"It remains the case that the train drivers’ union ASLEF continue to block their members from having a say on the offer that would take train drivers' median salaries from £60,000 to £65,000 for a 35-hour, 4-day week – ASLEF should follow the RMT's lead and give their members a say.”

Aslef members are still taking part in a "rolling programme" of walkouts between 2 and 8 December, with different train companies affected on each day.

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