Light at the end of the tunnel? RMT members accept new offer as Mick Lynch admits 'it's not very generous'

20 March 2023, 13:36 | Updated: 20 March 2023, 18:34

Mick Lynch and a stationary train
Mick Lynch and a stationary train. Picture: Getty/Getty

By Chay Quinn

RMT union members have accepted a revised pay offer from the Government to end a long-running dispute.

The new offer is for Network Rail staff and does not include members at other train franchises who still are in dispute with the Department for Transport - meaning - strikes on the 30 March and 1 April will still go ahead.

The lowest paid members will see an above-inflation pay lift of 14.4% - with a similar uplift of 9.2% for the highest paid.

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has become the most high-profile union dispute over the past months which has seen waves of industrial action across public services.

General Secretary Mick Lynch became the target of press attacks who accused him of holding Britain to ransom during the winter wave of strikes which disrupted the public during the Christmas period.

He told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr: "It's not very generous, we're certainly not celebrating this, but it's brought us forward.

"We were offered 2% last year, last spring, round about this time, and in the first year that’s gone up to 5% and there's additional back pay.

"There are other bits and pieces which our members value, such as travel facilities on the railway, which we lost in privatisation.

"There's a new contract of employment for our station staff. So theres a number of elements there in the detail which are of value, but in headline pay it's not great, it's below inflation and we're not blowing any trumpets about it."

A stationary train at London Waterloo station
The settling of this rail dispute could signal the start of the end of Britain's wave of public sector strikes. Picture: Getty
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch became the figurehead of Britain's strike wave over the past year. Picture: Getty

Read More: Travel chaos as rail strikes hit 14 train operators with more than half of all services cancelled

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Junior doctors, postal workers, nurses, rail workers, BBC regional journalists, teachers and other public servants have walked out in recent months - but the Government has appeared more receptive to unions in recent weeks.

Striking nurses are set to vote on a pay offer which has been recommended to be accepted by union barons to end their own dispute with the Department for Health and Social Care.

Some nurses are mobilising against the 5% pay rise offer despite the support of the top brass - with many expected to hold out for an offer closer to the original 11% demands.

The National Education Union has re-entered talks to end the teachers' strike after they had rejected a previous below-inflation pay rise of 5% from the Department for Education.

Junior doctors walked out in unprecedented numbers last week - with the British Medical Union using the action to further claims that junior doctors are paid less than baristas in Pret A Manger in a viral campaign.

The BMU are demanding pay restoration to reverse a decades-long freeze and combat inflation - which would reportedly constitute a 35% rise in their rates.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "I am pleased Network Rail's RMT members have voted to accept a fair and reasonable 5% plus 4% pay offer, over two years, that the Government worked hard to facilitate.

Transport secretary Mark Harper
Transport secretary Mark Harper said he was pleased the Network Rail dispute had come to an end. Picture: Getty

"While this is good news, unfortunately, RMT members who work for train operating companies are not being given the same chance to bring their dispute to an end.

"That's because the RMT has refused to put the Rail Delivery Group's very similar offer to a vote, denying these members the pay rise they deserve.

"That's why I am once again urging the RMT to call off their upcoming strikes across train operating companies, put the Rail Delivery Group offer to a vote, and give all of their members a say."