RMT accuses government of sitting on their hands in rail dispute

RMT accuses government of sitting on their hands in rail dispute

29 November 2022

RMT Press Office:

Rail Union RMT, criticised the government for a lack of urgency in dealing with national rail dispute, following a meeting with the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper last week.

General Secretary Mick Lynch is due to meet the Rail Minister Huw Merriman and rail employer representatives this coming Friday.

However, RMT have said the government's "lack of urgency" is "astonishing," given the strike action scheduled to start in two weeks' time.

In a letter to business groups and the hospitality industry, impacted by the strike, Mick Lynch writes:

"I have today received a letter from him [Mark Harper] offering a joint meeting with the Rail Minister, the employers and RMT this Friday. Whilst I have accepted the offer this lack of urgency from the government is astonishing. By this Friday more than a week will have passed since I met the Secretary of State without an offer being put on the table. Time is running out.

"We understand the impact that these rail strikes are having on your sector at this time of year, yet while you face disruption to your business at this critical time, the private rail businesses we are in dispute with will not lose a penny. Despite the rail companies being the employers of the staff taking strike action, the government has decided to protect these private rail businesses from being liable for any loss of revenue arising from the strikes. This also ensures that the rail companies can continue to make profits, despite the strike action. 

"The government’s actions also mean that the train operating companies have no incentive to settle the dispute. On the basis of answers given in Parliament by the government, we calculate that by the end of the next round of strikes the government will have bailed out the train companies to the tune of £318 million to cover the cost of the strikes.

"To be clear, as a result of this indemnification, if these strikes go ahead, the rail companies will continue to make profits while you will lose money.

"As it is the government which is clearly prolonging this dispute with their taxpayer funded bailout for the private train companies you would clearly be justified in asking what similar steps it will be taking to compensate your businesses."

Mr Lynch goes on to point out that RMT has come to a negotiated settlement with the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments on pay and conditions on the railways but not Westminster.

He writes: "In Scotland and Wales, RMT has settled similar disputes with the support of the governments there but where companies are controlled by the DfT, time is running out. The strikes that are scheduled for the run up to Christmas are a direct consequence of actions being taken by the Secretary of State, so I would urge you to take action to help resolve the dispute by writing to him calling on him to ensure a meaningful offer is made to facilitate a resolution of the dispute."



The letter was sent to: 

Confederation of British Industry

Institute of Directors


British Beer and Pub Association

British Retail Consortium

British Chambers of Commerce

Federation of Small Businesses

Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre

Night Time Industries Association

Central District Alliance

Heart of London Business Alliance

Soho Estates

London HQ

New West End Company

Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

Soho Business Alliance

Heart of London Business Alliance

Hippodrome Casino


Fuller Smith & Turner PLC

Stonegate Group

Inception Group

Revolution Bars Group

Urban Pubs & Bars

ETM Group

Drake & Morgan

City Pub Company

Young and Co.’s Brewery PLC

Tourism Alliance


Indemnification statistics if the next phase of strike action goes ahead.





Value of government indemnification for 16 days of strike action and associated disruption 






Cross Country 




East Anglia 




East Midlands 




Essex Thameside (c2c) 




Great Western 




South Western 




Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (GTR) 




TransPennine Express 




West Coast 




West Midlands 









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