Train operating companies have made a “best and final offer” to the UK’s biggest rail workers’ union in an effort to resolve the bitter dispute which has led to recent rail strikes.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the operators, made the offer to the RMT, which said it would now consider the document before deciding whether to put it to its members.
The offer to the RMT includes a minimum pay rise of 9% over two years, with special provision for the lowest paid, and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until at least the end of December 2024, which is an improvement to the previous offer of April 1 2024. It also includes conditions on the adoption of new roles and flexible working.
RDG chairman Steve Montgomery said the offer was a fair one for workers which also allowed scope for the railway to “innovate and adapt”.
A statement from the RDG said: “The offer, made through an outline framework agreement, would allow the industry to adapt to significant changes in the ways in which passengers use the railway, while offering rewarding and varied careers for staff.
“If accepted, it would help recover the industry’s finances post-covid, reducing the burden on taxpayers at a time of significant pressure on public spending.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the union’s executive will consider the offer and decide its next steps “in due course”.
The RMT’s action since June last year has been the most disruptive. Up to 40,000 workers have taken part in each walkout, shutting half of all lines and stopping 80% of all services. It has been sparked by concerns over pay, working conditions and job security.
Under the offer, staff who are paid below a certain threshold will receive a guaranteed £1,750 in year one, ensuring that lower paid employees benefit most.
The RDG said many of its proposals “simply extend” best practice already in place in parts of the network, including the creation of a new multi-skilled station role, new “station groups” so that staff are more able to move between stations, for example where there are staff shortages, and the use of part-time contracts and flexible working rosters.
Current voluntary working arrangements on Sundays would be formalised, which the RDG said would help to reduce delays and disruption at a time when Sunday travel demand has increased significantly post-Covid.
A voluntary redundancy scheme will be made available for those who wish to leave the industry.
The contentious issue of expanding driver-only operation is not included in the new offer. The RDG said: “The offer does not include any proposals to revise the mode of operation of trains but acknowledges that individual, train operating companies could separately make proposals to update and revise current on‐board roles.”
TheRDG said industrial action has cost the industry about £480 million in lost ticket revenue since June, on top of its current £2 billion fares shortfall post-Covid.
Steve Montgomery, chair of the RDG, said: “This is a fair offer that gives RMT members a significant uplift over the next two years – weighted particularly for those on lower incomes who we know are most feeling the squeeze – while allowing the railway to innovate and adapt to new travel patterns. It also means we can offer our people more varied, rewarding careers..”
The RMT said the proposals would require “serious and careful consideration” by its national executive.
In a statement it said: “The proposals on pay and job security are directly conditional on cost savings and alterations to contractual terms, entitlements, and working practices.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The National Executive Committee will be considering this matter and has made no decision on the proposals nor any of the elements within them. We will give an update on our next steps in due course.”