Rail workers union rejects new pay offers in long-running dispute

Move likely to result in more disruption for Britain's railway commuters

The RMT has rejected the latest offers from both Network Rail and the train operating companies, the union announced. PA.
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Britain's biggest railway workers' union rejected the latest pay offers from train companies on Friday, signalling more pain for commuters who have been disrupted by sporadic strikes since last summer.

Amid a wave of industrial action by health workers and teachers among others, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), said the decision was made after an "in-depth" consultation with its 40,000 rail staff members.

"The message we have received loud and clear (from our members) is to reject these dreadful offers," RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said, adding they did not meet members' expectations on pay, job security or working conditions.

Britain's Transport minister Mark Harper said the RMT's rejection of the offers was "a kick in the teeth for passengers" and workers who had not been given a vote on the offer.

"The RMT's leaders should have had the courage to allow their own members to have the chance to vote on their own pay and conditions, rather than making that decision for them behind closed doors," Harper said in a statement.

Separately, the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA), which represents train drivers, said "thousands" of workers will be given a vote on offers from their employers, but it did not formally recommend that its members accept or reject the offers.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, said passengers and RMT members would be "deeply dismayed" that the union rejected its offer without a full members' vote.

The RDG had described its offer as "best and final", saying it would improve services in exchange for pay rises of 5 per cent and 4 per cent to cover 2022 and 2023, respectively. It said on Friday it remained "willing to engage" further.

Hundreds of thousands of workers, many from the public sector, have been going on strike across Britain over the past year as they demand pay rises from employers that take into account the worst inflation in four decades.

"Our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes to get a negotiated settlement that meets our members reasonable expectations on jobs, pay and working conditions," Mr Lynch said.

The TSSA said the offers it received represented progress in some areas, but that it would continue to ballot for further industrial action and that the dispute remained ongoing.

Mr Harper, the transport minister, said Britain's railways needed reform to be financially sustainable but "it is now clear that no realistic offer is ever going to be good enough for the RMT leadership."

Updated: February 11, 2023, 2:31 AM