RMT union votes to continue industrial action for another six months

The rail network could be hit by another six months of strikes after members of the biggest rail workers’ union voted to renew their mandate for industrial action.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said there was an overwhelming vote in favour of continuing strike action in the long running dispute over pay and conditions.

The union re-balloted members working for 14 train operating companies, saying they all passed the 50 per cent participation threshold needed under law.

Unions involved in disputes have to re-ballot their members every six months to legally continue with strikes and other forms of action.

The RMT has announced a strike against train companies on May 13, the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.

RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said the overwhelming backing for further strike action across 14 train operating companies was a “de-facto referendum” on the dispute.

“It is clear from these results that members are not prepared to accept a pay offer based on mass job cuts and major attacks on their terms and conditions.

“This sends a clear message to the employers that the huge anger amongst rail workers is very real and they need to recognise that fact, face reality and make improved proposals.

“They need to get around the table with RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers.”

The union said there was an average turnout in each company of nearly 70 per cent, over 90 per cent of votes cast backed continuing with strike action.

It is the third consecutive time since May last year that members have voted in favour of strike action.

A separate dispute with Network Rail ended in March, after maintenance and signalling staff accepted a deal.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “While the outcome of the ballot is disappointing, sadly it is also unsurprising during an on-going dispute such as this.”

The spokesperson called on the RMT executive to put the current deal on the table, accusing them of bypassing a democratic vote on it.

“The vote that really matters is for the deal on the table developed in conjunction with RMT negotiators but then subsequently rejected out of hand in unflattering terms by their executive committee, without giving their membership a single chance to have their say.

“The RMT membership would be forgiven for wondering why they are only ever offered a vote to extend this dispute and a never vote to end it. We can only assume that the executive committee is fixed on continuing this dispute for its own reasons, despite the damage it is causing to an industry still being subsidised up to £175m a month extra post-Covid, to our passengers’ lives and to Britain’s reputation for hosting high-profile events like Eurovision.

“Instead of continuing to hold the country to ransom, we call on the RMT executive to quickly think again and put the deal – which offers job security guarantees and a pay rise of up to 13 per cent – out to a democratic vote so that members can finally have their say.”

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