RMT announces Christmas rail strikes

Image above: Chiswick Station 

Eight more dates set for rail strikes over the Christmas period

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) have announced a fresh series of 48 hour strikes in December and January, after industry bosses failed to offer any new deals to reach a settlement.

Earlier this month the RMT called off strike action to enter further negotiations with rail bosses after a new pay offer was made, which the union hailed as a victory, but the Rail Delivery Group and Network Rail cancelled a meeting on Monday evening at the last minute, ceasing all talks with the union.

Over 40,000 members across Network and 14 Train Operating Companies will now take strike action on 13, 14, 16 and 17 December and on 3, 4, 6 and 7 January.

There will also be an overtime ban across the railways from 18 December until 2 January, meaning RMT be taking industrial action for 4 weeks.

Only Transport Secretary can sort out negotiations now, say RMT

Image: RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

“This latest round of strikes will show how important our members are to the running of this country and will send a clear message that we want a good deal on job security, pay and conditions for our people.

“We have been reasonable, but it is impossible to find a negotiated settlement when the dead hand of government is presiding over these talks.

“The employers are in disarray and saying different things to different people sometimes at the same time. This whole process has become a farce that only the new Secretary of State can resolve. When I meet him later this week, I will deliver that message.

Strikes will cause further misery but deal in sight, say Rail Delivery Group

The Rail Delivery Group responded, saying:

“We have made real progress over the last fortnight and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.

“Any strikes will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses in the run up to Christmas and beyond. The RMT leadership should now remove any uncertainty around Christmas and commit to protecting everyone’s first festive period post Covid from any strike disruption.

“The alternative is a bleak winter of industrial action, making it harder to find workable solutions to bring about the much-needed changes that will help secure the railway’s future and unlock the funds for a pay offer. Revenues are still 20% down on 2019 level and this dispute has brought the industry’s post-pandemic recovery to a shuddering halt – with strikes since June resulting in lost revenue of £250-£300m.

“We urge the RMT leadership to stay at the negotiating table so we can build on that progress and end a dispute that is harming passengers and businesses, the industry, and their members.”

Image: Transport Secretary Mark Harper

Government denies intervening in negotiations

The RMT says Transport Secretary Mark Harper is ultimately responsible for negotiations and have blamed him for intervening in the current negotiations. The Government have “categorically denied” this and Mr Harper has said he will “do all he can” to help facilitate a deal, but stressed negotiations are “ultimately between the train operators and the unions”.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said the rail strikes were “concerning”. He said:

“Many people come from outside London – the day trippers – to the theatre and to spend money in our shops.

“I would encourage Mark Harper, I would encourage the private train operating companies, I would encourage the RMT to get round the table and resolve this.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Strikes in November and December: mail, rail, tube and bus services face disruption

See also: Armed police guard Iranian TV studio in Chiswick Park after death threats to journalists

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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