Rail passengers whose journeys have been blighted by eight months of strikes are likely to face yet more disruption after the RMT union rejected the latest pay offers from both Network Rail and the train operating companies.
Staff had been offered a 5 per cent pay rise for 2022 and 4 per cent for this year, contingent on changes to working arrangements.
Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: “We have carried out an in-depth consultation of our 40,000 members and the message we have received loud and clear is to reject these dreadful offers.
“Our members cannot accept the ripping up of their terms and conditions or to have safety standards on the railway put into jeopardy under the guise of so-called modernisation.
“If our union did accept these offers, we would see a severe reduction in scheduled maintenance tasks, making the railways less safe, the closure of all ticket offices and thousands of jobs stripped out of the industry when the railways need more investment not less.”
He added: “Our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes to get a negotiated settlement that meets our members reasonable expectations on jobs, pay and working conditions.”
It raises the spectre of more stoppages in the weeks and months ahead.
The train operators involved in the dispute are effectively on contract to the Department for Transport (DfT), which specifies the trains they must run and many of the fares they must charge.
So even though negotiations are carried out by the RDG, ministers must sign off the final settlement.
Network Rail is an “arm’s length body” of the DfT – again, with the government signing off any settlement.
Earlier this week the transport secretary, Mark Harper, stressed the latest proposed deal was “a best and final offer that’s on the table”.
He told rail industry leaders: “I’ve been clear throughout this period of industrial action that modernising working practices must be part of reform.”
Mr Harper also warned: “Operating the railways is now financially unsustainable. And it isn’t fair to continue asking taxpayers to foot the bill.”
Members of the RMT working for train operators have taken 16 days of national industrial action since June 2022, with Network Rail staff on strike for 20 days.
The train drivers’ union, Aslef, is involved in a separate dispute with broadly the…
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