The UK’s rail industry body is urging the main union to “sit down and talk” ahead of planned strike action across the country’s train network.
The RMT union announced on 7 June that it would be instructing members employed by Network Rail plus 13 train operators to stop working for 24 hours on 21, 23 and 25 June.
In response, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is imploring the union to continue talks and resolve the dispute before the proposed disruption.
Steve Montgomery, of the RDG, said: “It’s really important we ask RMT to get back round the table,” adding that the industry body was “extremely disappointed” by the planned industrial action.
“We have to look how we can reform,” he said. “We’ve not said ‘we’re not going to give staff a pay increase’, but we need to sit down and talk with RMT on how we can move reform forward to make it fair for everybody.”
Union members voted overwhelmingly for action last month amid growing dissatisfaction over pay and job losses. The RMT said rail staff who had worked through the pandemic were facing pay freezes as well as hundreds of job cuts.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Railway workers have been treated appallingly, and despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry, with the support of the government, has failed to take their concerns seriously.
“We have a cost of living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1 per cent and rising.
“Our union will now embark on a sustained campaign of industrial action which will shut down the railway system. Rail companies are making at least £500m a year in profits, whilst fat cat rail bosses have been paid millions during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Alongside a separate walkout by London Underground RMT members set to take place on 21 June, the first strike day will involve more than 50,000 workers in “the biggest dispute on the network since 1989”, according to RMT.
In addition to Network Rail, services run by the following train operating companies will be affected on strike days:
- Chiltern Railways
- Cross Country Trains
- Greater Anglia
- East Midlands Railway
- Great Western Railway
- Northern Trains
- South Eastern Railway
- South Western Railway
- TransPennine Express
- Avanti West Coast
- West Midlands Trains