UK train passengers are set to face more serious disruption to their travel next month as the RMT rail union has called three more days of strikes in its ongoing dispute with Network Rail.
RMT members are due to walk out again on 3,5 and 7 November after the union accused Network Rail of performing a “U-turn” on a pay offer in the long-running dispute over wages, jobs and conditions.
The union has already held eight days of strikes throughout the summer and autumn which have crippled the UK rail network. Only around 20 per cent of normal services have operated on these strike days with no trains at all in some areas.
RMT leaders said that Network Rail, which owns and operates the country’s rail infrastructure, had “attempted to impose drastic changes in working practices on their staff” while negotiations over a pay deal were continuing.
Mick Lynch, the union’s general secretary said: “The dishonesty of Network Rail bosses has reached a new low in this national rail dispute.
“On the one hand they were telling our negotiators that they were prepared to do a deal, while planning to torpedo negotiations by imposing unacceptable changes to our members’ terms and conditions.
“Our members are livid with these duplicitous tactics, and they will now respond in kind with sustained strike action.”
This was disputed by Network Rail which insisted it had offered a new deal including a two-year 8 per cent pay rise and also extended its “job guarantee” for RMT members to January 2025.
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “Unfortunately, the leadership of the RMT seem intent on more damaging strikes rather than giving their members a vote on our offer. Me and my team remain available for serious talks and continue to negotiate in good faith.
“Our sector has a £2 billion hole in its budget with many fewer passengers using our services. That reality is not going to change anytime soon and a fair and affordable and improved deal is on the table, ready to be implemented if our people were only offered the opportunity.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson called the new strikes “incredibly disappointing”, with millions of people “once again having their day-to-day lives disrupted”.
In separate disputes, RMT members at London Underground and Arriva Rail London are also due to go on strike on 3 November.