RMT members at Network Rail accept offer to end dispute
Members of the RMT in Network Rail have voted overwhelmingly to accept an offer to end the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.
In a turnout of nearly 90%, members voted by 76% to 24% in favour, signalling an end to the bitter row, which led to a series of strikes in recent months.
The union said the deal includes an uplift on salaries of between 14.4% for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% for the highest paid, increased backpay, a no compulsory redundancy agreement until January 2025 and rail travel benefits.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Strike action and the inspiring solidarity and determination of members has secured new money and a new offer which has been clearly accepted by our members and that dispute is now over.
“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.
“The ball is in the Government’s court.”
The Government and Network Rail welcomed the ballot result although the RMT remains in dispute with train operators and plans two fresh strikes next week.
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “I’m pleased that RMT members were able to vote on this offer and the overwhelming vote in favour is good news for our people, our passengers and our country. I’m grateful for everyone who worked so hard at Network Rail and in the RMT to find a way through this dispute.
“My team and I will now focus all our efforts on rebuilding our railway so we can provide a better service for our passengers and freight customers.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “I am pleased Network Rail’s RMT members have voted to accept a fair and reasonable 5% plus 4% pay offer, over two years, that the Government worked hard to facilitate.
“While this is good news, unfortunately RMT members who work for train operating companies are not being given the same chance to bring their dispute to an end. That’s because the RMT has refused to put the Rail Delivery Group’s very similar offer to a vote, denying these members the pay rise they deserve.
“That’s why I am once again urging the RMT to call off their upcoming strikes across train operating companies, put the Rail Delivery Group offer to a vote, and give all of their members a say.”
The RMT added that Network Rail had withdrawn its previous insistence that the offer was conditional on the union accepting the company “modernising maintenance” agenda, which the union will continue to scrutinise and challenge.
Mr Lynch said that when the union first declared the dispute with Network Rail a year ago in the spring of 2022, the RMT was told that Network Rail workers would only get a pay rise of 2% to 3%.
Adam Tyndall, programme director for transport at London business group BusinessLDN, said: “The vote by RMT members to accept this offer is a step towards restoring confidence in Britain’s public transport network and shows how the Government, unions and operators can work successfully to resolve disputes.
“The agreement offers a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for those businesses that have been hit hard by disruption, including in the hospitality and retail sectors. But there is still more to do to end the months of disruption for businesses across the capital.
“We hope this positive step encourages all sides in the remaining disputes to reach agreements so businesses and Londoners can plan for the longer term and give fresh energy to the economic recovery.”
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “The decision by RMT members at Network Rail to overwhelmingly accept the latest pay offer is great news, and shows the importance of allowing members a say in a democratic vote. Now, train operating staff will rightly be asking why their union continues to deny them the same opportunity as their Network Rail colleagues.
“We urge the RMT leadership to build on this positive momentum, come back to the negotiating table and agree a deal which will bring an end to this dispute and give Britain’s railway and its staff a secure long-term future.”