Rail strikes 'could last for months' if other side doesn't back down, Mick Lynch warns

24 July 2022, 12:08

Mick Lynch warned of more disruption in the coming months
Mick Lynch warned of more disruption in the coming months. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

RMT boss Mick Lynch has predicted months of strikes and disruption for commuters in the ongoing dispute over rail workers' pay.

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He warned of a "rolling campaign of trade union activity" after his own organisation confirmed another day of mass rail strikes.

Britain is facing another day of commuter agony on July 27 as workers at Network Rail and 14 train companies walk out over the pay dispute.

It followed three days of action that shut down all but a fifth of train services and crippled Britain's rail network.

The RMT has accused the Government of preventing Network Rail and the train firms from agreeing a deal with the union, while the Government says it is up to the union to sort an arrangement with those organisations.

Asked by LBC's Ben Kentish if strikes and disruption could last for months if the Government did not back down, Mr Lynch said: "That is likely to happen because we're not able to bridge the gap.

Months of rail strikes are 'likely to happen'

"But the Government may subtly change their position, they've done a lot of U-turns in the last period. So it's up to them, they can subtly change it, or they can come to the table and make an announcement.

"I'm not bothered - I want to work with the industry leaders to get a settlement to this dispute. We'll do that in a common sense way that everyone can support but we're not just going to surrender and meekly give in to something that is impossible for us to accept."

Read more: Travel chaos for train passengers as RMT confirms next week's rail strikes will go ahead

He admitted there is a risk of losing some of the support he has in the polls if strikes rumble on and disrupt more days of travel, and he said he also wants to be responsible with the effect striking has on his members, who are not paid when they walk out.

Some commentators have characterised this part of the year as a "summer of discontent", as workers in other industries and jobs, such as barristers, also take action or threaten to do so - leading to fears of the possibility of an attempt at a general strike.

More rail strikes are yet to come, Mick Lynch believes
More rail strikes are yet to come, Mick Lynch believes. Picture: Getty

Mick Lynch previously spoke about the possibility of coordinating action and he told LBC that anger over pay from workers in areas like the public sector could boil over into a "rolling campaign of trade union activity".

The RMT wants salaries that better reflect soaring inflation, while Network Rail has accused the union of "political campaigning" and refusing to compromise and thrash out a deal.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail chief executive, said: "Despite our best efforts to find a breakthrough, I'm afraid there will be more disruption for passengers next week as the RMT seems hell-bent on continuing their political campaigning, rather than compromising and agreeing a deal for their members.

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"I can only apologise for the impact this pointless strike will have on passengers, especially those travelling for holidays or attending events such as the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 semi-final (Wednesday 27th) and the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games (Thursday 28th).

"It is frustrating to yet again ask our passengers to change their plans and only make essential journeys."

Network Rail said only about half of the rail network will be open on July 27, and a very limited service will run on some lines between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

All commuters have been asked to plan ahead, highlighting long that trips like London to Scotland will have their final services leave in the early afternoon.

The knock-on effect will see disruption on Thursday morning too.