RMT union members vote to accept Network Rail pay offer and end strike stalemate

Tue 21 Mar 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Man with head in hands at train station

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union have overwhelming voted to accept an offer from Network Rail, a move that has been welcomed as a possible breakthrough in ending the wave of strikes hitting the UK.

With a turnout of nearly 90%, over three quarters (76%) of RMT members voted to accept the deal , according to Sky News.

The offer includes a 9.2% pay increase covering 2022 and 2023, with an additional pay lift for lower paid workers and extended travel benefits.

Ongoing

The vote does not mean an end to industrial action on the rail lines, as staff working for train companies are subject to a separate dispute over jobs and working conditions.

Negotiations between the RMT and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) are ongoing, with strikes still planned for Thursday 30 March and Saturday 1 April.

A “best and final offer” from the RDG was put to the RMT last month, but has not been subject to a full vote after union leaders rejected it following “an in-depth consultation” of members, according to the Independent.

‘Put deal to vote’

Transport secretary Mark Harper pushed for the RMT to put the offer to its members and cancel next week’s strikes, reports GB News.

“I am once again urging the RMT to call off their upcoming strikes across train operating companies, put the RDG offer to a vote, and give all of their members a say,” Harper said.

A spokesman for RDG mirrored the transport minister’s comments, calling for the union to “build on this positive momentum, come back to the negotiating table and agree a deal which will bring an end to this dispute.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

“Our dispute with the train operating companies remains firmly on and our members’ recent highly effective strike action across the 14 train companies has shown their determination to secure a better deal.

“If the government now allows the train companies to make the right offer, we can then put that to our members, but until then the strike action scheduled for March 30 and April 1 will take place.”

Business reaction

City AM reports that London’s hospitality sector reacted positively to the deal.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive at UKHospitality, said that the agreement was “encouraging news” for the sector which has suffered reported losses of up to £3bn.

She said: “There’s plenty still to be done, of course, with ongoing negotiations between other employee groups, but I hope that this agreement paves the way for rail and tube strikes to end completely.”

Adam Tyndall, programme director for transport at business group BusinessLDN, told the Evening Standard that “the agreement offers a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for those businesses that have been hit hard by disruption.”

Other strikes

The Guardian notes that 12,000 train drivers represented by Aslef are still in dispute with the government.

The FT reports that members of the Public and Commercial Services union, which includes border force staff and driving examiners, remain locked in a dispute with the government after its general secretary Mark Serwotka complained of “no meaningful talks” being held.