UK rail strikes suspended after ‘promise of pay offer'

RMT union says that dispute remains 'very much live' despite strike reprieve

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has confirmed that strikes planned for this month will no longer go ahead. EPA
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A series of planned strikes by British railway workers in a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions has been suspended to allow for further talks, union leaders have said.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) had been due to stage 24-hour walkouts on Saturday, next Monday and Wednesday.

The RMT said it has secured “unconditional” talks on Network Rail and the promise of a pay offer from the train-operating companies.

The union said the dispute remains “very much live” and it is continuing its re-ballot of members to secure a fresh mandate for action with the result due on November 15.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The threat of strike action and our strongly supported industrial campaign has made the rail 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.

“Our priority is our members, and we are working towards securing a deal on job security, a decent pay rise and good working conditions.

“Our re-ballot remains live and if we have to take strike action during the next six months to secure a deal, we will.”

Commuters at Waterloo Station in London, Britain. EPA.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “It’s welcome news that the RMT has called off its strikes but the very late notice means that services for tomorrow cannot be reinstated and will remain extremely limited, and while we, and our train company partners, will work without pause at the weekend, there will be limited ability to change the ‘strike timetable’ for Monday.

He said that the advice remained to only travel "if absolutely necessary" but said he looked forward to getting back to the negotiating table with the unions and hoped that a resolution could be found.

A representative of the Rail Delivery Group welcomed the move as "positive" but said that the late notice meant that train services would remain severely disrupted on Saturday and the early part of next week.

The RMT said that NR had originally declared discussions and consultations closed, and was intent on imposing changes to maintenance without agreement with the union.

“They have now rowed back and will continue discussions on the basis that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed," said the RMT.

“This takes away the reason for the current phase of action and means talks can continue without pre-conditions unilaterally set down by the company."

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “This is a positive development for passengers up and down the country but the very late notice means, unfortunately, there will still be significant disruption across the network tomorrow and into Monday.

“We encourage unions and employers to continue their negotiations and calling off these strikes has given those talks a better chance of success.

“It is vital, for passengers and workers alike, that all parties continue to work together and deliver a modern railway we can all be proud of.”

Updated: November 04, 2022, 6:43 PM
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