The RMT has announced two more national rail strikes in August, and the union has warned that the dispute with Network Rail and the train operators in England over jobs and pay ‘will not simply vanish’.
The 24-hour walkouts of 40,000 staff have been called for 18 and 20 August. After striking on 21, 23 and 25 June, the RMT had already announced a fourth walkout on 27 July. The drivers’ union ASLEF said yesterday that its members at eight train operators in England will also walk out on 30 July, while TSSA is calling out its clerical and managerial members at Avanti West Coast on 27 July, and the operator is no longer selling tickets for that day.
The industry has expressed widespread disappointment at the prospect of more disruption, which will occur during the main summer holiday season and also while the Commonwealth Games are under way in Birmingham.
The RMT has described Network Rail’s latest pay offer, of 4 per cent this year backdated to January and up to 4 per cent next year, as ‘paltry’.
Responding to the news of more strikes, the Rail Delivery Group said: ‘This is a hugely disappointing announcement from the RMT's leadership which will upset passengers’ summer plans, undermine struggling businesses and upend the industry’s recovery.
‘We want to give our people an increase in pay, but asking taxpayers to shoulder more of the burden when they have already contributed £600 per household during the pandemic, or expecting passengers to fund it by paying more for their tickets, isn’t fair or sustainable. Instead, we have a responsibility to make changes to long-outdated working practices so we can adapt to post-Covid travel patterns.’
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The rail industry and the government need to understand that this dispute will not simply vanish.
‘They need to get serious about providing an offer on pay which helps deal with the cost-of-living crisis, job security for our members and provides good conditions at work.
‘Recent proposals from Network Rail fell well short on pay and on safety around maintenance work.
‘And the train operating companies have not even made us a pay offer in recent negotiations.
‘Now Grant Shapps has abandoned his forlorn hopes for the job of Prime Minister, he can now get back to his day job and help sort this mess out.
‘We remain open for talks, but we will continue our campaign until we reach a negotiated settlement.’
Meanwhile, the RMT has accepted a 7 per cent pay increase for its members on Merseyrail. The operator, which is run as a concession by Serco and Abellio on behalf of Merseytravel, has agreed the deal on a ‘no strings attached’ basis.
The RMT has also secured pay deals on London Underground worth 8.4 per cent, on MTR Crossrail at 8.2 per cent and 9.25 per cent on the Docklands Light Railway, which is a Transport for London concession run by Keolis and Amey.
Mick Lynch said: ‘I congratulate our Merseyrail members on this impressive win. It is clear we can win decent pay rises on train operators when they are not under the auspices of the DfT and when free collective bargaining can take place.’