RMT and train operators reach breakthrough in national rail row
RMT and train operators reach breakthrough in national rail row

RMT and train operators reach breakthrough in national rail row

RMT and train operators reach breakthrough in national rail row

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<span>Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA</span>

Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

The RMT union has reached a possible deal with train operators to resolve their long-running national rail dispute, allaying fears of a repeat of last year’s Christmas strikes.

The union, which represents 20,000 crew and station staff, has drawn up a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) with employers to ballot members at train operating companies over a deal that would backdate the 2022 pay rise and extend guarantees over jobs until the end of 2024.

Rail unions have staged intermittent strikes since June last year, and the RMT called almost a month of industrial action across the 14 English train operators over last Christmas and New Year. The union agreed a deal worth 9% for members at track owner Network Rail in March, but it rejected the similar pay offer from operators around the same time.

A statement issued on Wednesday by both the RMT and the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), the body representing train operators, said: “If accepted, this MOU will terminate the national dispute mandate, creating a pause and respite from industrial action over the Christmas period and into spring next year, while allowing for these important negotiations on proposed reforms to take place at local train operating company level through the established collective bargaining structures.

“These discussions would be aimed at addressing the companies’ proposals on the changing needs and expectations of passengers as well as unlocking further increases for staff, in order to help to secure a sustainable, long-term future for the railway and all those who work on it.”

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The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “This is a welcome development and our members will now decide in an e-referendum whether they want to accept this new offer from the RDG.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We welcome the RMT putting this fair and reasonable offer to its members in a referendum, marking a positive step towards resolving this dispute.

“The Rail Delivery Group’s offer guarantees no compulsory redundancies and a fair pay rise, 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 the RMT’s industrial action.”

The pay deal is understood to have not changed substantively since it was rejected by the union’s national executive. However, the government has since U-turned on the planned closure of ticket offices, which the RMT had described as “a fig-leaf for redundancies”, and possibly easing negotiations in the dispute. The aborted plan would have resulted in almost all of England’s remaining 1,007 ticket offices closing in the next few years.

The union is expected to make no recommendation on whether to accept or reject the deal, as with the Network Rail ballot that saw members vote to end the strike. The 2022 pay rise would be implemented immediately but increases for 2023 would depend on local negotiations.

Further strikes cannot be ruled out as the train drivers union Aslef remains in dispute with the RDG. A spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to hear of an RMT deal but we haven’t heard from the RDG since April or the government since January. We’d love to negotiate with them but they haven’t approached us.”

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SOURCE : ca.sports.yahoo.com

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