Railway chaos looms as strikes set to drag on for another six months, as RMT union members vote for more walkouts

5 May 2023, 00:25

Members of the RMT union backed at least six more months of strike action
Members of the RMT union backed at least six more months of strike action. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Train passengers have months' more misery in store, after members of the RMT union voted for further strike action.

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The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said there was an overwhelming vote in favour of more industrial action.

"It is clear from these results that members are not prepared to accept a pay offer based on mass job cuts and major attacks on their terms and conditions.

Read more: Travel chaos looms as train strikes set to hit Eurovision, the FA Cup final and Epsom Derby

Read more: Rail workers to stage walk out on day of Eurovision final after pay offer rejected

Unions involved in disputes have to re-ballot their members every six months to legally continue with strikes and other forms of action.

The RMT has announced a strike against train companies on May 13, the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool, after months of strikes on-and-off.

Mick Lynch
Mick Lynch. Picture: Getty

Mick Lynch, secretary general of the RMT, said the latest vote "sends a clear message to the employers that the huge anger amongst rail workers is very real and they need to recognise that fact, face reality and make improved proposals.

"They need to get around the table with RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers,” he said.

It comes as train strikes are set to wreak havoc for popular events in the coming weeks, as Eurovision, the FA Cup Final, the Army v Navy Rugby and Epsom are all due to be hit by industrial action.

RMT members turned down "clarification" on an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the railway operators.

Further rail strikes have been annoucned during May in an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions.
Further rail strikes have been annoucned during May in an ongoing dispute over pay and working conditions. Picture: Alamy

The RMT said the offer included a first-year payment of 5% but only if the union terminated its industrial mandate, meaning no further strike action could take place

A spokesperson for the RDG said: "While the outcome of the ballot is disappointing, sadly it is also unsurprising during an on-going dispute such as this.

"The vote that really matters is for the deal on the table developed in conjunction with RMT negotiators but then subsequently rejected out of hand in unflattering terms by their executive committee, without giving their membership a single chance to have their say.

“The RMT membership would be forgiven for wondering why they are only ever offered a vote to extend this dispute and a never vote to end it.

General Secretary of RMT Mick Lynch talks to about the railway strikes

"We can only assume that the executive committee is fixed on continuing this dispute for its own reasons, despite the damage it is causing to an industry still being subsidised up to £175 million a month extra post covid, to our passengers’ lives and to Britain’s reputation for hosting high-profile events like Eurovision.

"Instead of continuing to hold the country to ransom, we call on the RMT executive to quickly think again and put the deal – which offers job security guarantees and a pay rise of up to 13% – out to a democratic vote so that members can finally have their say."

Responding to the vote, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "I’m disappointed by the RMT’s decision to continue taking industrial action. Train companies put forward a fair and reasonable pay offer which the RMT’s executive have refused to consult their members on, despite members working for Network Rail voting overwhelmingly to accept it earlier this year.

"The Rail Delivery Group’s best and final offer guarantees employees a fair and reasonable pay rise, while delivering the reforms needed to address the long-term challenges facing the industry.”

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