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RMT union rejects latest offers in rail dispute

  • By Katy Austin
  • traffic correspondent

image source, Getty Images

The railway union RMT has rejected wage offers from Network Rail and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), dismissing any hopes of an early end to the long-running dispute.

Network Rail and the RDG said the offers were their “best and final” offers.

But RMT boss Mick Lynch described them as “terrible”.

The rejection came from the union’s national board, but industry and the government want the offers to be put to a members’ vote.

Mr Lynch said they had not met members’ expectations “in terms of pay, job security or working conditions”.

The RMT said it will now seek further meetings with Network Rail and the RDG – which represents railway companies – to try to work towards an agreement.

But it will start preparations for a new election of its members when the existing strike mandate expires at the end of May.

It’s a significant moment in the ongoing national rail dispute – not only because the RMT has rejected what were announced as the last employer offers, but because the union is now explicitly speaking of seeking an “unconditional” collective bargaining agreement.

Government and industry have been saying all along that a wage increase would have to be financed through “reforms”.

From today’s perspective, it is therefore unclear how things can continue.

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pay for offers

Last month, the RDG presented a list of labor practice changes that it said could fund a 5% pay rise for 2022 and another 4% this year.

Separately, Network Rail, which employs maintenance and signaling staff, offered a package that included a 5% pay rise last year and 4% for 2023, along with other perks like discounted travel for the family. Members rejected this in December.

Network Rail recently made a similar offer but retained the charge element.

The RMT said it seeks “an unconditional salary offer, a job security agreement and no adverse changes to members’ conditions and labor practices.”

Proposed changes in the way Network Rail’s maintenance teams operate are a particular bone of contention for the RMT.

The union said it viewed the plans as “uncertain” and unworkable. Network Rail has always insisted that safety should not be compromised.

Mr Lynch said: “We have carried out an in-depth consultation of our 40,000 members and the message we have received loud and clear is to reject these terrible offers.

“Our members cannot accept that their terms and conditions are torn up or that safety standards on the rails are jeopardized under the guise of so-called modernization.

“If our union accepted these offers, we would see a sharp reduction in planned maintenance tasks, making the railways less safe, closing all ticket offices and eliminating thousands of jobs from the industry when the railways need more investment, not less . “

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