UK rail union rejects pay offer to head off Christmas strikes

Train operators hoped 8% offer would resolve a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions

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Britain's RMT union has turned down an 8 per cent wage offer over two years that train operators had hoped would avert strike action in the run-up to Christmas.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train operating companies, had offered a pay increase of 4 per cent this year and 4 per cent next year. The RMT had signalled last week that its 40,000 members would come out on strike in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

“We have rejected this offer as it does not meet any of our criteria for securing a settlement on long-term job security, a decent pay rise and protecting working conditions,” RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said.

British Transport Secretary Mark Harper said in a statement: “The situation is incredibly disappointing, and unfair to the public, passengers and the rail workforce who want a deal.”

Inflation in the UK is running at more than 11 per cent.

Britain will suffer an unprecedented number of strikes in the run-up to Christmas as discontent spreads about pay, which many workers claim is failing to keep pace with soaring inflation.

Cost of living crisis

As the UK battles with a cost of living crisis, thousands of workers have voted for strike action across several sectors of the economy.

Coffin makers at the Co-op's only coffin factory begin a week-long strike on Monday. Meanwhile, workers at the homeless charity, Shelter, have started an unprecedented two-week strike in a dispute over pay. The Unite union said a 3 per cent pay increase this year has left many of Shelter's own staff unable to pay their rent.

More than 30,000 firefighters and control room staff start voting on strike action on Monday. Members of the Fire Brigades Union are being consulted on a 5 per cent pay offer.

“Strike action will always be a last resort but we are running out of options,” FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said.

“Many firefighters and control staff are desperate. Some are struggling to afford to live. It is a dreadful and very serious state of affairs.

“We are doing everything we can to secure a decent offer. We have held talks with and written letters to many different parties, but no such pay offer has been forthcoming.”

Updated: December 05, 2022, 9:22 AM