An RMT ballot of its members at 14 train operating companies in England has resulted in a substantial majority in favour of continuing strikes in the dispute over pay.
Both the Rail Delivery Group and transport secretary Mark Harper say the result is ‘disappointing’.
At most operators, the vote approving of more action was in the region of 10 to 1, according to information provided by the union. A total of 13,091 ‘yes’ votes were cast, as opposed to 1256 who said ‘no’, amounting to a vote in favour of 91 per cent.
The turnout was almost 69 per cent, which met the legal requirement for a turnout of at least 50 per cent, and the vote gives the RMT the right to call more strikes until November.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, who is already calling his members out for 24 hours on 13 May, said: ‘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.
‘This 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.’
Transport secretary Mark Harper responded: ‘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.‘
The RDG added: ‘While the outcome of the ballot is disappointing, sadly it is also unsurprising during an ongoing 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. We can only assume that the executive committee is fixed on continuing this dispute for its own reasons, despite the damage is causing to an industry still being subsidised up to £175 million a month extra.’