Rail strikes: RMT union announces wave of strike action before Christmas and in new year after talks breakdown

A rail union has announced a fresh wave of 48 hour strikes that are set to cause travel misery in the run-up to Christmas and in the new year.

Over 40,000 RMT members across Network Rail and 14 train operating companies will take strike action on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and on January 3, 4, 6 and 7.

There will also be an overtime ban across the railways from 18 December until 2 January, meaning RMT be taking industrial action for four weeks. The overtime ban will mean staff will not work on rest days over the Christmas period, which is likely to reduce services on non-strike days as well.

The action is set to cause chaos on the country’s rail services over the festive period.

The industrial action was called after talks with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the Train Operating Companies, broke down.

The RMT said operators have refused to make their “promised written proposals” in the ongoing dispute over jobs, terms and conditions and pay.

Network Rail also declined to make any proposals promised at the conclusion of intensive talks last week, the union added.

RMT’s National Executive Committee met on Tuesday morning and agreed to the series of strikes.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

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.

"In the meantime, our message to the public is, we are sorry to inconvenience you, but we urge you to direct your anger and frustration at the Government and railway employers during this latest phase of action.

"We call upon all trades unionists in Britain to take a stand and fight for better pay and conditions in their respective industries.

"And we will seek to co-ordinate strike action and demonstrations where we can.


"Working people across our class need a pay rise and we are determined to win that for our members in RMT."

PM Rishi Sunak warned his Cabinet on Tuesday that “challenging” months lay ahead amid the cost of living crisis, wider strike action and pressures on the NHS.

His official spokesman added: “Clearly, further strike action risks putting the future of the rail industry in jeopardy.

“We are continuing to call on union leaders to work with employers to come to an agreement that is fair to passengers, taxpayers and workers.”

A Rail Delivery Group spokesman said: "We made real progress over the last fortnight of talks and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.

"Further strikes, especially in the run up to Christmas, will disrupt the first normal festive season our passengers have been able to look forward to since the Covid pandemic, taking even more money out of the pockets of railway staff, and will cause huge damage to the hospitality and retail sectors dependent on this time of the year for their businesses.

"We owe it to them to stay round the table.

"Industrial action has already cost the industry millions in lost revenue, is stalling its post-pandemic recovery and threatening its long-term sustainability.

"We are asking the RMT to stay at the negotiating table, work with us towards a fair deal and end a dispute that is harming passengers, the industry, and their members."

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail's chief negotiator, said: "No-one can deny the precarious financial hole in which the railway finds itself. Striking makes that hole bigger and the task of finding a resolution ever more difficult.

"Only through reform, that will not result in anyone losing their job, can savings be made that can then be converted into an improved offer.

"While progress has been made over these last two weeks, we still have yet to find that breakthrough.

"We will not give up and hope that the RMT will return to the table with a more realistic appreciation of the situation."

It comes as thousands of commuters face disruption as Abellio bus drivers in south and west London begin 10 days of industrial action over pay.

Almost 1,000 Unite union members at bus garages including Battersea, Hayes, Twickenham and Walworth walked out on Tuesday.

It is impacting around 60 bus routes across the capital, including to and from Heathrow terminals 4 and 5.

Many routes have a reduced or no service.

Further strikes are due to take place on November 25 and 26, as well as on December 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17.

Unite says Abellio failed to "enter into meaningful pay talks".

The bus company said it had offered to introduce a new pay deal this month.