RMT announces three days of rail strikes
A fresh round of rail strikes is expected to disrupt national networks during July, after the RMT union announced that 20,000 workers would stage three days of stoppages.
The move dashes any hopes of an imminent resolution to a bitter labour dispute that has caused frequent disruption to rail lines across the country throughout 2023.
The RMT said train operators had failed to make a new pay offer and that members working for 14 rail companies would, as a result, go on strike on 20, 22 and 29 July.
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said the new strikes, part of continued industrial action by the union, would “show the country just how important railway staff are to the running of the rail industry”.
“My team of negotiators and I are available 24/7 for talks with the train operating companies and government,” he said.
“Yet quite incredibly neither party has made any attempt whatsoever to arrange any meetings or put forward a decent offer that can help us reach a negotiated solution.
“The government continues to shackle the companies and will not allow them to put forward a package that can settle this dispute.”
The government accused the union of “targeting two iconic international sporting events” by coinciding with the fourth and fifth Ashes Test and The Open golf championship.
The announcement marks a fresh chapter in a bitter and long-running labour dispute. RMT members have voted three times to take strike action over the past 12 months, while the train drivers’ union Aslef has also staged atrikes.
Rail services across England came to a halt earlier this month, after 12,000 drivers went on strike for the second time in a week amid a long-running dispute with operating companies over pay and conditions.
Further labour action is expected in July, after Aslef announced a week-long overtime ban.
New strikes will deal a “hammer blow” to the hospitality sector, according to Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of the trade body UK Hospitality.
“Venues will have been gearing up for bumper sales as schools break up for summer holidays and major sporting events, such as the Ashes and the Open, attract thousands of fans,” she said.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The RMT leadership’s decision to call strikes targeting two iconic international sporting events, as children and families begin their summer holidays, will disrupt people’s plans across the country.
“After a year of industrial action, passengers and rail workers alike are growing tired of union bosses playing politics with their lives.
“Union leaders should do the right thing and give their members a chance to vote on these pay offers.”
The strike announcement came a day after the anniversary of the first RMT strike, on June 21 last year.
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “More strikes are totally unnecessary. After a year of industrial action all the RMT has achieved is losing their members more money than they would have received in the pay offers they refused to put out to a vote, despite having agreed the terms with the negotiators in the room.
“We have now made three offers that the RMT executive have blocked without a convincing explanation.”