Rail strike negotiations in ‘hiatus’ after rejection of latest offer
Negotiations with the biggest union involved in rail strikes are in “hiatus” after the latest offer was rejected without a vote, the boss of Network Rail said.
Chief executive Andrew Haines said the Government-owned company is “not refusing to talk” to the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) but there is “a difference between talks and meaningful negotiations”.
Network Rail is bitterly frustrated that the union refused to put its proposal aimed at resolving the bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions to a vote of its members.
Fresh strikes beginning on March 16 were announced last week.
Mr Haines said the RMT has rejected “the fundamental principles” of the negotiations, including that pay rises must be linked to modernisation leading to productivity improvements.
He went on: “We are having to take stock because three consecutive times we’ve reached what we’ve believed is an in-principle deal with the negotiators, only for it to be rejected three times by the executive committee of the RMT.
“So you have to say why do we keep following that process?”
He added: “We’re in a hiatus while we consider the appropriate next steps.”
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator in the dispute, said: “I think the RMT has really annoyed their members – our staff – by their refusal to put the revised offer that we made in January to a referendum.
“It’s a sham of an excuse to say that that was rejected on the basis of just going through the branch meetings.
“We can see that because our own staff are telling us that very clearly.
“They’ve been really clear that they want a chance to vote on the deal.”
Network Rail hopes around 1,000 more services will be able to operate on strike days compared with previous walkouts, partly due to an increase in the number of RMT members who will not participate.
The RMT has called a strike for workers at Network Rail on March 16 and will then launch a ban on overtime.
Its members at 14 train operators will walkout on March 16, 18 and 30, and April 1.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch last week said it will take “sustained and targeted industrial action over the next few months” as employers are “not being given a fresh mandate by the Government” to offer a new deal.