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RMT rejects new offer from rail employers in pay and jobs dispute

The RMT has rejected an offer from rail employers aimed at heading off more strikes.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) offered the union a pay rise of 8% over two years with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies to April 2024, in an attempt to resolve a long-running dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

The RMT’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “We have rejected this offer as it does not meet any of our criteria for securing a settlement on long-term job security, a decent pay rise and protecting working conditions.

“The RDG and DfT [Department for Transport], who sets their mandate, both knew this offer would not be acceptable to RMT members. If this plan was implemented, it would not only mean the loss of thousands of jobs, but the use of unsafe practices such as DOO [driver-only operation, where drivers operate the doors on all carriages] and would leave our railways chronically understaffed.

“RMT is demanding an urgent meeting with the RDG tomorrow morning with a view to securing a negotiated settlement on job security, working conditions and pay.”

Thousands of RMT members across 14 train operators and Network Rail are due to stage two 48-hour strikes this month. The RDG said its offer would deliver “vital and long overdue” changes to working arrangements.

It said its draft framework agreement gave the RMT a chance to call off its planned industrial action and put the offer to its membership. The strikes, on 13-14 and 16-17 December, coupled with an overtime ban over Christmas, would result in a month of disruption on the network, the RDG said.

A spokesperson said the offer was “fair and affordable”.

The RDG said it had proposed that the process of buying tickets at stations would be modernised, with ticket office staff moving out from behind glass screens to other parts of the station.

It also offered: “Where it doesn’t already happen, a new contractual commitment for staff to work rostered Sundays, either as part of their core working week, or as an additional working day remunerated at the existing rate set out in company-specific agreements.”

Of driver-only operation, it said: “It does not mean removing staff from onboard trains. It allows staff onboard to focus on other safety issues and looking after customers onboard with journey advice, selling tickets, etc. The aim would be to see this extended across more areas of the network – where appropriate technology and rolling stock allows – to improve safety of train dispatch and provide greater resilience in times of disruption.”

The transport secretary, Mark Harper, said the RMT’s announcement was “incredibly disappointing” and was unfair to the public, passengers and the rail workforce.

“Our railways need to modernise. There’s no place for outdated working practices that rely on voluntary overtime to run a reliable seven-day service,” he said.

Luke Chester, organising director of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said he had requested an urgent meeting with the RDG on Monday “to seek to address our concerns” after the union also received new offers from both Network Rail and the RDG.

He added: “I am glad that the government has finally given authority to the employers to make offers in an attempt to resolve our dispute. We are considering the detail of these offers very carefully and will be consulting our reps tomorrow.

“The RDG offer, in particular, contains more strings than a harp, including some which have never previously been discussed. Today’s RDG offer also omits significant points that had previously been negotiated.

“There is nothing in the offer for either managers or controllers in train operators, and our union would expect any serious offer to include all those staff covered by the dispute.”

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