RMT union announces fresh strikes over four days in March and April in dispute over pay and jobs

The RMT union accused employers of refusing to put any new offers on the table

Rail workers will stage a series of fresh strikes in March and April in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Members of the Rail, Martine and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on 16, 18 and 30 March and 1 April at 14 train operators.

The union’s members at Network Rail will strike on 16 March and will then launch a ban on overtime, after accusing employers of refusing to put any new offers on the table.

The union, which represents 40,000 workers across Network Rail and 14 train operators, rejected offers from employers last week.

Rail workers will stage a series of fresh strikes in March and April (Photo: Getty Images)Rail workers will stage a series of fresh strikes in March and April (Photo: Getty Images)
Rail workers will stage a series of fresh strikes in March and April (Photo: Getty Images)

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Rail employers are not being given a fresh mandate by the Government to offer our members a new deal on pay, conditions and job security.

“Therefore, our members will now take sustained and targeted industrial action over the next few months. The government can settle this dispute easily by unshackling the rail companies. However, its stubborn refusal to do so will now mean more strike action across the railway network and a very disruptive overtime ban.

“Ministers cannot continue to sit on their hands hoping this dispute will go away as our members are fully prepared to fight tooth and nail for a negotiated settlement in the months ahead.”

RMT is seeking an unconditional offer from rail operators and Network Rail.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said the latest round of strikes is “totally unjustified” and will be an “inconvenience” to customers, as well as costing employees money.

They said: “The RMT leadership’s decision not to put the deal out to a referendum means that thousands of their lowest paid members have been denied a chance to have a say on an offer which would give them a pay increase of over 13%.

“The RMT agreed from the outset that the industry needed modernisation and understood that was how a pay rise could be funded. After many months of extensive talks and meeting key demands on DOO (driver only operation), pay and job security, the leadership have now reneged on that position and say they do not accept any reforms.

“They know that no employer who has lost 20% of its revenue could accept those terms. The vital changes will not go away because the RMT refuses to engage with them. We remain open to having further talks but urge the leadership to put the deal they negotiated with us to a democratic vote and allow their members – our people – a say on their own future.”

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said: “Just days after denying its members a say on their own future, the RMT leadership is now trying to make them lose multiple days’ wages through yet more strikes.

“Passengers want this dispute to end. We have facilitated fair and reasonable offers on pay and reform – with a pay rise worth 5% last year and 4% this year – but, sadly, the RMT leadership is not interested.

“Our railways are not currently financially sustainable and these best and final offers would have given workers what they want and, crucially, the passengers what they need. All more strikes will do is damage the rail industry even further and drive more passengers away.”

It comes as the UK continues to face mass walkouts in other sectors, including the NHS, civil service, universities and schools.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) onThursday (16 February) announced a significant escalation in strike action at more than 120 NHS employers in England in the increasingly bitter dispute over pay and staffing. The next strike will run continuously for 48 hours from 6am on 1 March.

Ambulance workers will stage a fresh strike on Friday (17 February) in the long-running dispute over pay and staffing. Members of the GMB and Unite in the West Midlands will mount picket lines outside hospitals across the region.