A renewed war of words has broken out between the RMT and railway managers after the union said that promised proposals to end the six-month dispute had not been forthcoming, ‘without any credible explanation’.
The new clash could now be followed by further strikes.
The union added that Network Rail has also ‘refused to make any proposals promised at the conclusion of intensive talks last week’.
It had suspended strikes on the understanding that new proposals would be made by 17 November.
The RMT’s National Executive Committee is meeting this morning, and the union said it was ‘highly likely’ that more industrial action would be the result. Members voted last week to permit more strikes and other action for up to another six months.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘After a fortnight of talks, the TOCs had committed to making a firm offer in writing for the first time today. They cancelled the meeting at an hour’s notice, and we can sense the hand of the Tory government in this as we believe that they are not allowing an offer to be made.
‘This is on top of Network Rail failing to make a new proposal at the end of last week. Our members have shown their commitment to the dispute and to winning workplace justice in the re-ballot results last week and their union is equally determined to see this dispute through until we get a deal our members can support.
‘Our National Executive Committee will be meeting to consider this. We have been patient and have shown good faith which has not been returned. Therefore, I will be recommending that we set out further phases of sustained industrial action in support of our members.
‘While we will remain available for meaningful negotiations it is now obvious that the other side is unwilling or unable to progress matters appropriately, so our action will be reinstated.’
The Rail Delivery Group did not comment directly about alleged promises, but said: ‘We have made real progress over the last fortnight and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.
‘Any strikes will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses in the run up to Christmas and beyond. The RMT leadership should now remove any uncertainty around Christmas and commit to protecting everyone’s first festive period post Covid from any strike disruption.
‘The alternative is a bleak winter of industrial action, making it harder to find workable solutions to bring about the much-needed changes that will help secure the railway’s future and unlock the funds for a pay offer. Revenues are still 20 per cent down on 2019 level and this dispute has brought the industry’s post-pandemic recovery to a shuddering halt – with strikes since June resulting in lost revenue of £250-£300 million.
‘We urge the RMT leadership to stay at the negotiating table so we can build on that progress and end a dispute that is harming passengers and businesses, the industry, and their members.’