Light at the end of the tunnel: Rail strikes could end as RMT union and train firms reach agreement

8 November 2023, 18:56 | Updated: 8 November 2023, 18:59

General secretary Mick Lynch joins striking RMT members attending their picket line on September 2, 2023 in London
General secretary Mick Lynch joins striking RMT members attending their picket line on September 2, 2023 in London. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

A breakthrough has been announced in the long-running dispute involving railway workers over pay and jobs.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

After talks between the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, a so-called memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been developed and sets out a process for a mutually agreed way forward.

That will include a backdated 2022 pay rise for staff and job security guarantees, the RMT said.

RMT members in each of the train operating companies involved in the row will now vote on the suggested agreement.

If accepted, the MOU will terminate the national dispute mandate, creating a pause and respite from industrial action over the Christmas period and into next spring, allowing for negotiations on proposed reforms to take place at local train operating company level, the union said.

A separate dispute with train drivers in the Aslef union also remains ongoing, so Christmas walkouts could still be possible.

Read More: Unison urged to ‘stand down’ strikes as council chiefs fund more cash for pay

Read More: 'Stop the unions de-railing Christmas': PM unveils new anti-strike laws as minimum service regulations brought in

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "This is a welcome development and our members will now decide in an e-referendum whether they want to accept this new offer from the RDG."

An RDG spokesperson said: "These discussions would be aimed at addressing the companies' proposals on the changing needs and expectations of passengers as well as unlocking further increases for staff, in order to help to secure a sustainable, long-term future for the railway and all those who work on it."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "We welcome the RMT putting this fair and reasonable offer to its members in a referendum, marking a positive step towards resolving this dispute.

"The Rail Delivery Group's offer guarantees no compulsory redundancies and a fair pay rise, while ensuring we can take forward much-needed reform to secure the future of our railways.

"We hope RMT members will recognise the benefits, accept this offer and put an end to the RMT's industrial action."