Railway workers vote for ‘largest strike in modern history’ Business News

Railway workers have voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over jobs, wages and conditions, the RMT union has announced.

The result was announced within four hours of the close of polls by more than 40,000 railway workers.

The RMT said: ‘Railway workers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action in Network Rail and the rail operating companies, in the biggest endorsement of industrial action by railway workers since privatisation.’

Of the 71 percent of those eligible to vote, 89 percent were in favor of the strike – representing 63 percent of the voted workforce and more than 25,000 workers.

RMT members working for Network Rail and 14 of the 15 rail operators voted for ‘strike action and non-strike action’.

Rail operators whose RMT members voted to strike include Avanti West Coast, Greater Anglia, GWR, LNER, Northern and South Western Railway.

The LNER issued a statement saying: “We are aware of the potential industrial action announced by the RMT. We will review the results of this proposed industrial action and provide updates on how it may affect LNER services. »

Staff working for GTR – covering Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern – voted only in favor of “pre-strike action”.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is vindication of the union’s approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, the job security and no compulsory dismissals.

“Our NEC [National Executive Committee] will now meet to discuss a strike timetable from mid-June, but we sincerely hope that Ministers will encourage employers to return to the negotiating table and find a reasonable agreement with the RMT.

The union says it will now ‘demand urgent talks with Network Rail and the 15 rail operating companies that have been elected to find a negotiated settlement to the pay, jobs and safety dispute’.

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said: ‘The RMT has taken the leap here because everyone loses if there is a strike.

“As a public body, we strive to provide a wage increase that taxpayers can afford, and we continue to discuss this with our unions.

“We urge the RMT to sit down with us and keep talking, not walking, so we can find a compromise and avoid damaging industrial action.

“We are at a key moment in the recovery of the railroad after the pandemic. The taxpayer has provided the industry with £16billion in extra life support over the past two years and it cannot continue. Travel habits have changed forever and the railway must also change to adapt to this new reality.

“Any industrial action now would be disastrous for the recovery of our industry and would have a huge impact on vital supply and freight chains. It would also undermine our collective ability to afford the pay raises we want to make. »

Steve Montgomery, Group Chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, representing rail operators, said: “Our railways need to adapt to attract more passengers and reduce our operating costs. It is unfair to ask taxpayers to continue to shoulder the burden when other vital services need public support.

“No one wins when industrial action threatens to disrupt the lives and livelihoods of passengers and businesses and jeopardizes industry recovery. We urge RMT management to behave responsibly and talk to us to find a way to avoid damaging industrial action and secure the long-term future of the industry.

“Every company wants to support its people and the railway is no exception. All train operators want to offer their staff a pay rise and are working hard to make that happen. But, as an industry, we need to change the way we work and improve productivity to help pay for our own expenses.

“The alternatives of asking taxpayers to shoulder the burden after the government contributed over £16bn to the industry during covid or asking passengers to pay even higher fares when they feel they also the pinch, just aren’t right.”

Transport for Wales and ScotRail were not involved in the RMT ballot – but ScotRail is currently canceling 700 trains a day following a dispute involving the train drivers’ union, Aslef.

The railways’ white-collar union, TSSA, is threatening what its general secretary has called “a summer of discontent”. Members are being consulted ahead of a potential strike vote if pay fails to keep pace with inflation – which hit 9% last week.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-24 20:48:04

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