RMT members to vote on Network Rail offer from Thursday

Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) members at Network Rail will begin voting on an offer aimed at resolving the bitter industrial dispute on Thursday.

The referendum on what the union described as a “new and improved” offer will run until March 20.

The RMT said the proposal “involves extra money” and is not conditional on accepting Network Rail’s maintenance reforms.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Network Rail has always insisted pay rises can only be funded through modernising how it carries out maintenance, and has already started consulting on changes.

The RMT has been engaged in national rail strikes since June last year, frequently decimating services.

Workers at Network Rail were due to strike again on March 16, but in a surprise development on Tuesday night the RMT announced the suspension of its action at the Government-owned company after receiving the new offer.

The union said it is better than a previous offer it rejected as the 2023 pay rise would be backdated to October 2022.

It went on: “Network Rail’s offer amounts to an uplift on salaries of between 14.4% for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% for the highest paid.”

The RMT is not making a recommendation on how its members should vote in the referendum.

General secretary Mick Lynch said: “Network Rail have made a new and improved offer and now our members will decide whether to accept it.

“We will continue our campaign for a negotiated settlement on all aspects of the railway dispute.”

A strike by RMT members at 14 train operators is still scheduled to take place on March 16, 18 and 30 and April 1, and is expected to cause major disruption.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the companies, has urged the union to also call of those walk outs and put its latest offer to a vote.

On Wednesday evening, the RMT said it had been invited for talks by the RDG on condition the strikes on March 16 and 18 were suspended, but the union said the walkouts would go ahead.

A statement said: “Today the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) invited us to discussions on the current dispute but on the condition that the planned strike action on 16 & 18 March is suspended.

“The RMT NEC has decided that the scheduled action will remain in place but that the union will be available for discussions and will attend any meetings on creating a resolution to the dispute through an improved offer.

“The union will contact the RDG seeking such a meeting.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “After months of strikes, the RMT are putting this very fair offer to its members in a neutral referendum, marking a positive step in resolving this dispute.

“In line with the existing mandate, Network Rail’s offer guarantees competitive pay rises and no compulsory redundancies, while ensuring we can take forward much-needed reform to secure the future of our railways. We hope RMT members will recognise the benefits, accept this offer and put an end to industrial action.”