The RMT has performed a sudden u-turn by cancelling three imminent national strikes.
The unexpected change of heart, just before a weekend, has come too late to save train services during the next few days which had been cut back sharply by operators expecting mass walkouts, with the first set for today (5 November). It was also too late to avoid a strike on West Midlands Railway yesterday (4 November). A separate walkout is still due on London Underground on 10 November.
More strikes had been called on Network Rail on the 7th and at Network Rail and the operators on the 9th. These have also been cancelled, but train services may still be disrupted.
The RMT said its change of heart was because it had secured ‘unconditional’ talks with Network Rail and the promise of an offer from the operators ‘who up until this point, have made no offer of any kind’. It also emphasised the dispute remained ‘very much alive’.
General secretary Mick Lynch added: ‘The threat of strike action and our strongly supported industrial campaign has made the employers see sense.
‘We have always wanted to secure a negotiated settlement and that is what we will continue to push for in this next phase of intensive talks.’
In contradiction, railway employers and the government have been telling journalists that their position is unchanged.
Meanwhile, members of the RMT are still being asked to vote on whether to continue industrial action until April. The ballot closes on 15 November.
Mr Lynch continued: ‘The re-ballot remains live and if we have to take strike action during the next six months to secure a deal, we will.’
The Rail Delivery Group, speaking for the operators, said: ’It is positive that the RMT leadership have stepped back from the brink. We remain committed to intensive negotiations to agree the reforms needed to improve reliability, deliver a pay rise for our people and get the industry back on a sustainable financial footing.’