Union leaders have confirmed that a number of planned rail strikes in mid-September have been postponed.
Rail workers across several unions were due to stage days of walkouts amid ongoing disputes over pay and conditions. However, in response to the death of the Queen the action has been suspended.
The RMT, TSSA and Aslef have all said that they will suspend or cancel one-day strikes which were expected to cause massive disruption on the railways. However, the strikes are expected to go ahead at a later date.
The RMT, its members and Network Rail have been in a pay, jobs and condition dispute, with widespread diruption seen earlier in the summer due to the 24-hour walkouts.
The most recent strikes on 18 and 20 August saw four out of five services cancelled, causing travel chaos for many people attending festivals and sporting events.
Each strike has seen around 40,000 members of the RMT Union at Network Rail refuse to work in a dispute over pay, pension and working conditions, with members of the TSSA, Unite and Aslef also staging walkouts over pay and conditions.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has accused the unions of doing “lasting damage” to the rail network but union officials say the action is necessary to protect their members’ rights.
Will there be more train strikes in September?
The RMT has confirmed that planned 24-hour walkouts on Thursday 15 September and Saturday 17 September will not go ahead. However, in a statement it said the strikes were “suspended” rather than cancelled, indicating that they could still take place later in the month or in October. The union still has not reached a settlement with Network Rail in its bitter dispute over pay levels and modernisation proposals.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "RMT joins the whole nation in paying its respects to Queen Elizabeth. The planned railway strike action on 15 and 17 September is suspended.
"We express our deepest condolences to her family, friends and the country."
Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) were due to strike from midday on Monday 26 September but the union’s general secretary, Manuel Cortes said: “TSSA is cancelled planned industrial action for September and will be respecting the period of public mourning.”.
Members of the train drivers’ union Aslef were also due to walk out at 12 train companies on 15 September, action which the union has said it was “postponing”.
Why are rail workers striking?
RMT members are striking in a dispute over pay, pension and job security.
After several days of strikes in July and August, the union rejected what it called a “paltry” 8% pay rise over two years. Staff would have seen their salaries rise by 4% this year and 2% next year, with the final 2% conditional on reaching what Network Rail called “modernisation milestones”.
The union wants the pay rise to be in line with inflation, which stood at 10%. It has also previously claimed that the modernisation being sought by Network Rail is a threat to jobs and to safety.
The TSSA is also demanding a “fair” pay rise for its members who work for Network Rail, as well as assurances over job security under plans to modernise the rail network.
Aslef, which represents train drivers says that while it has reached deals with several train operating companies, several others “have their hands tied by the Department for Transport and aren’t able to negotiate a reasonable deal”. It says that drivers have faced wage freezes while senior managers and shareholders have seen salaries and dividends soar.
Talking about plans for future strikes, RMT general secretary Mick 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 Network Rail said?
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We welcome the unions’ decision to call off next week’s strikes and we join them and the rest of the railway family in sending our condolences to the royal family.”