‘Shape of fair deal’ is now there to resolve strike, say rail insiders

RMT's Mick Lynch discusses a possible resolution to rail strikes

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) needs to “get back around the table” with rail operators to end strike misery disrupting the nation, a source said. “There is the shape of a fair deal here and we do need to genuinely get back around the table and get ourselves to a deal,” they added.

The insider said the industry wants to “see a resolution just like everybody else” in a bid to get the railways “as close to normal” as possible.

The suggestion of movement came as Downing Street suggested on Wednesday a “fair agreement” which ends strike misery was possible – but should not include a double-digit pay rise for workers.

Reports earlier this week suggested rail union and industry bosses are “nearly there” in their efforts to agree on a pay deal, raising hopes fresh walkouts could be avoided.

RMT union boss Mick Lynch is said to have softened his stance and has been “the most deal-minded” they have ever found him in recent meetings.

The source said that many people felt Mr Lynch had taken a “less muscular tone” during meetings in the run-up to Christma, adding: “There’s been a lot of reaching.”

Trains are expected to be much busier than usual in the run-up to New Year’s Day, before a week of nationwide strikes by members of the RMT and Aslef unions from January 3.

More than 40,000 members of the RMT union working for Network Rail and 14 train operators will walk out for 48 hours on 3 and 4 January, and again on 6 and 7 January.

Thousands of train drivers belonging to the Aslef union who work for 15 train operators will strike on January 5.

Britons have been advised only to travel if absolutely necessary and to expect severe disruption if they do.

Rail workers will hope for a resolution soon with many losing out on thousands of pounds over the last six months.

Shoppers, hospitality bosses and high street workers have also faced huge disruption over the festive season because of limited transport services.

Rail strikes were a “key” reason for slump in high street visits ahead of Christmas, footfall experts revealed.

The Night Time Industries Association hit out at the walkouts, warning pubs and clubs were on course to lose £2 billion in revenue over the festive season from lost trade and cancelled bookings.

A YouGov survey this month found more people oppose the rail strikes than support them.

In September, more people backed than opposed the walkouts.

Another source said Mr Lynch needs a way out of the dispute.

They added: “Rather than things just being dismissed, he’s been putting forward practical solutions. There’s been talk of using language creatively to get a deal over the line.

“We’re nearly there, although next week’s strikes are looking baked in. A deal by the end of January is not impossible.”

The RMT has so far turned down a nine percent pay rise over two years from Network Rail.

It includes a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until January 2025.

It has also rejected an offer of eight percent from the train operators.

Train staff, nurses, ambulance drivers and driving examiners are among the thousands of people who have walked out in recent months as part of a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

A No 10 spokesman encouraged union representatives and employers to hold further talks in a bid to find a resolution.

He also claimed double-digit salary increases would “embed inflation”.

The No 10 spokesman said: “We want the strikes to come to an end, we want people to agree a fair pay settlement but, as we’ve said before, what we can’t do is allow for double-digit pay rises that will embed inflation going forward, which will impact the amount of money people have going forward.”

Asked if any deal is close between rail unions and bosses, the spokesman said: “It’s for the employers and the unions to do the detailed negotiations but our position remains that we want to see those strikes come to an end.

“We’ve seen the disruption they have caused not just this week and next week but throughout the Christmas period.

“We believe a fair and reasonable offer was put forward, which the RMT rejected despite a significant number of members voting to accept it, but now we want to see the unions get back round the table with the employers and reach a fair agreement.”

The spokesman added: “The Prime Minister wants to see employers and unions reach a fair agreement.”

But Paul Nowak, the new general secretary of the TUC, has accused the Government of “sabotaging” efforts to resolve strikes.

He said disputes were normally resolved through negotiations but added that the Government was refusing to come to the table.

Mr Nowak said striking workers have been “left with no choice” after more than a decade of pay cuts, and accused ministers of “sabotaging efforts to reach settlements”.

The Conservatives’ decision to hold down public sector pay has left workers “hugely exposed to the cost-of-living crisis” and deepened the staffing crisis in the NHS, education and other public services, he said.

Inflation remains above 10 percent although it is forecast to fall in 2023.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Transport Secretary and rail minister have worked hard to facilitate a fair and reasonable offer, which two unions have accepted, and it is incredibly disappointing that some continue to strike.

“We urge them to step back, reconsider and get back round the table, so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute.”

Source: Read Full Article