The RMT Union has announced fresh strike dates for September as the dispute between its members and rail companies continues.
It comes following a summer of disruption for commuters, with around 40,000 members expected to once again strike as they fight for a better pay deal.
The union says that the latest round of strikes have been announced as its members has been left with “no choice” but to take action, with general secretary Mick Lynch saying that transport secretary Grant Shapps has displayed a “dereliction of duty” in negotiations.
However, the Government has responded, saying the union is avoiding “constructive talks” by announcing strike action.
Here’s everything we know about the situation.
When are strikes due to take place?
Around 40,000 RMT union members will take strike action on Thursday 15 September and Saturday 17 September.
The dates will coincide with rail strikes being held by the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Aslef.
The TSSA union has already announced that it will stage a 24-hour walkout from midday on Monday 26 September. while Aslef had already announced strike action on Thursday 15 September.
The announcement comes after the RMT said that no progress or breakthrough had been made in the negotiations with train companies, including Network Rail.
The last pay rise offer given to members was a two-year 8% pay rise, however union bosses rejected this offer.
What did the RMT say about the latest strikes?
Mr Lynch said: “Our members have no choice but to continue this strike action.
“Network Rail and the train operating companies have shown little interest this past few weeks in offering our members anything new in order for us to be able to come to a negotiated settlement.
“Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) continues his dereliction of duty by staying in his bunker and shackling the rail industry from making a deal with us.
“We will continue to negotiate in good faith, but the employers and Government need to understand our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes.”
What has the government said about the September rail strikes?
The government has criticised the union for “disrupting” transport for millions of commuters.
Mr Shapps tweeted: “By refusing to put the 8% pay offer to their members, union bosses are holding both passengers & their own members to ransom. It’s time to give workers a say by holding a vote on the deal.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Yet again, union leaders are choosing self-defeating, co-ordinated strike action over constructive talks, not only disrupting the lives of millions who rely on these services but jeopardising the future of the railways and their own members’ livelihoods.
“These reforms deliver the modernisations our rail network urgently needs, are essential to the future of rail, and will happen, strikes will not change this.”
What has Network Rail said about the September strikes?
Network Rail has said that customers will be asked to stay away from using the rail network across the UK, with thousands of services expected to be affected by the upcoming strikes.
Its chief executive, Andrew Haines, added that the company is working to do “everything we can to find a breakthrough in talks.”
Mr Haines added: “We want to give our employees a decent pay rise and we’re doing everything we can to find a breakthrough in talks.
“It isn’t fair to ask taxpayers or passengers to fund this pay rise, so we must fund it ourselves, which is achievable if the unions will work with us to modernise and run the railway more efficiently.
“Our latest offer of a two-year 8% pay rise, with heavily discounted travel and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, is affordable from within our own budgets, but the RMT remains unwilling to give its members the chance to vote on it despite knowing that members at another union overwhelmingly accepted a similar deal.
“Frustratingly, the RMT’s decision to call further action means we will again have to ask passengers to stay away from the railway on September 15 and 17, at a time when we should be focusing on building a railway fit for a 21st century, post-pandemic Britain.”