Rail Dispute Update

Rail Dispute Update

1 October 2022

RMT Press Office:

Latest national rail dispute update.

Rail Dispute Update: 30th September 2022

RMT will be taking further strike action on 1st and 8th October, following our suspension of action on the death of Her Majesty the Queen. This action has been called because of failure to make progress in negotiations with the Rail Delivery Group and Network Rail. Neither has produced an offer that addresses the cost-of-living crisis or our members’ concerns about the threats of mass redundancies, hugely detrimental changes to terms and conditions and the imposition of longer working hours for less pay.

Key points

  • Negotiations have failed to make progress. Network rail have not improved on an offer of 4% this year at a time when RPI inflation is running at 12.3%. Even Network Rail boss Andrew Haines has admitted that in real terms this is a pay cut. Massive cuts to maintenance jobs and schedules are planned.

  • The Train Operating Companies have also made no offers to address the cost of living crisis and instead wish to launch a wholesale attack on our members jobs. They are planning on closing 1,000 ticket offices, imposing Driver Only Operation, making big cuts to catering, downgrading jobs and roles and bringing in new, inferior contracts. The employers have an agenda to drive down pay and working conditions on the railways. The Train Operating Companies have failed to give the union information for the purposes of collective bargaining, prompting RMT to file a complaint with the Central Arbitration Committee, while no attempt is being made to meet our claims.

  • The government has been controlling this dispute from the outset. Network Rail negotiators have indicated that they have to refer back to the government throughout the negotiations. The Train Operating Companies take their mandate from the Secretary of State and the government must sign off any proposed deal.

  • In addition, it’s been revealed that the government will cover the cost of the dispute at taxpayers’ expense on condition that the TOCs give control of any dispute to the Secretary of State and that the government scrutinises and agrees their ‘dispute handling plans’. As RMT has shown, the cost of this policy to the taxpayer is now well over £120 million as the government covers lost fare revenue and directs the dispute.

  • With the departure of Grant Shapps has gone some of the inflammatory and intemperate language that emanated from government and the new Secretary of State has brought a different tone and I have had a positive meeting with her. But nothing has concretely changed and indeed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s threat to impose further restriction on the right to strike has inflamed members’ feelings even more. The situation remains that the government is still controlling the TOCs’ mandate and supporting them financially while threatening new anti-trade union legislation on top of its highly dangerous moves to legalise the use of agency workers to break strikes.

  • This dispute is resolvable but only if the government changes the mandate of Network Rail and the TOCS and enables proper collective bargaining.

  • While rail workers are told their jobs and conditions are under threat and they must endure real terms pay cuts, wealthy executive enriching themselves at public expense. The Train Operating Companies, which are subsidised by the government, continue to suck profits out of the network, while cutting services for passengers. The government’s new funding agreements boosted their profits to an aggregate of £600 million for the year 2020-21, significantly better than before the pandemic. Dividend payments have remained healthy, with £73.5 million declared so far for 2020-21, while the TOCs are forecasting that they are well-placed for future dividend payments over 2022. The three Rolling Stock Companies who are also funded by the government have declared dividends worth £151.8 million for 2021. Yet Avanti is in chaos, while other TOCs operate reduced timetables, even though passenger numbers are running at 87% of pre-pandemic levels.

  • The Chancellor’s massively unpopular tax cuts only benefit the railway rich list. Yet our members are expected to endure pay freezes or real terms pay cuts.

  • The cuts being proposed by the government and the industry will make the railways less safe, less attractive and less accessible to travel on. In a survey, 92% of track and infrastructure maintenance workers agreed that Network Rail’s cuts will put passengers at greater risk. 88% of station staff and 85% of on-board staff surveyed said that the government and industry’s plans would worsen the passenger experience. 89% of station staff and 93% of on-board staff said that the plans would worsen the experience for disabled passengers. These concerns are shared by disabled people’s campaigning organisations. More than 15 are now actively opposing ticket office cuts, while the government’s own disabled persons advisory committee, DPTAC, has consistently referred to the combination of unstaffed stations and Driver Only Operation as ‘toxic’ for disabled people.

  • The public does not support the massive cuts being imposed, supposedly in the name of ‘modernisation’. Opinium polling in June shows that 60% oppose getting rid of staffed ticket offices, 63% oppose cuts to station and on-board staff and 70% oppose cuts to maintenance staffing. Nor does the public support the government’s draconian response to strikes. Polling for the TUC showed that 8 in 10 people support protecting and enhancing workers’ rights, while polling for the RMT showed a clear majority of the public want thegovernment to intervene to ensure that the companies meet workers’ concerns.

  • The case for cuts on the railways looks increasingly confected by the government in the interest of pushing an agenda that dates back to the McNulty report in 2011. Passenger usage continues to recover and as our population and economy grow, protecting and expanding services will be essential for protecting our prosperity and climate. Our railways are green transport for the future which is why it’s so short sighted for government to make these cuts.

  • The government must change course, stop backing a damaging, profit-oriented cuts agenda and enable a fair settlement of this dispute.

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Tagged with: Defend Rail Jobs Pay and Conditions, National Rail Dispute, Rail Strike, RMT,