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RMT union sets out ‘road map’ to settle long-running pay dispute as 20,000 rail staff stage walkout

The RMT, the biggest rail workers’ union, has set out a “road map” to a negotiated settlement in the long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

The union has written to the Rail Delivery Group saying the two sides needed to navigate a way through the row.

It comes as rail passengers across England face travel disruption on Saturday because of industrial action in which around 20,000 members of the RMT at 14 train operators are striking.

Mr Lynch said the union’s demands are:

  • A one-year pay proposal for all companies covering the year 2022-2023, with an underpin, backdated to the relevant anniversary dates in 2022.
  • A guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.
  • An undertaking that discussions with RMT within the companies, including formal consultations and negotiations, will be deferred until the outcome and determination from the ticket office closures consultation has been provided by the Government and, in any case, that these discussions will not commence before 1st December 2023.
  • A commitment that the existing collective bargaining structures and processes in each company will be respected and adhered to in full including consultation and negotiation as appropriate to the matters in scope and, if necessary, use of Avoidance of Dispute processes.
  • A commitment that pay negotiations for the year 2023-2024 will commence from 1st December 2023.

Mr Lynch said he believed the “staged programme” outlined in the letter would bring “clarity to everyone in the industry” and called on the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to “respond to this initiative next week”.

The industrial action on Saturday is happening at the beginning of the bank holiday weekend and coincides with events including the Notting Hill Carnival and the Reading and Leeds Festivals as well as sporting fixtures.

An estimated half of the usual train services will run. Some train services started later and will finish earlier.

Affected train firms have advised people only to travel on Saturday if necessary and to complete journeys by early evening.

There will be a reduced timetable in place in much of England with some journeys into Scotland and Wales also affected.

The RMT is also planning action on 2 September, while members of the drivers union Aslef are striking on 1 September. Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said the dispute is now political and train drivers are determined to carry on taking industrial action.

As well as the pay dispute, rail unions are embroiled in a row over plans to close railway ticket offices. Passenger groups and those representing elderly and disabled passengers have expressed anger at the proposals.

More than 460,000 people have responded to a consultation on the plans and a protest will be held opposite Downing Street on 31 August, a day before the consultation ends.

Prior to the release of the RMT letter, a Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “There is no question the strikes called by the RMT and Aslef leaderships are deliberately designed to target passengers who want to enjoy various sporting events and festivals during the bank holiday, and at the end of the summer holidays, disrupting their plans, hurting local economies and forcing more cars on to the road.

“This, despite having the RMT having repeatedly refused their memberships a vote on offers of up to 13 per cent for the lowest paid over two years, which could easily settle this dispute.”

The spokesperson added passengers should check before travelling and follow the latest information while “passengers with advance tickets can be refunded fee-free if the train that the ticket is booked for is cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government has played its part to try and end these disputes by facilitating fair and reasonable pay offers, but union leaders refuse to allow their members to vote on them.

“By cynically targeting the bank holiday weekend, and driving more passengers away from train travel when our railways are already losing £10 million a day even without industrial action, the RMT’s strikes are damaging its own industry’s future.”

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