UK’s largest rail union accepts new pay offer

By Farouq Suleiman

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s largest railway workers’ union, the RMT, on Thursday accepted a pay offer from train companies that will pause strikes over the Christmas period as further negotiations over future pay and working practices continue.

The deal follows more than a year of industrial action across the transport network alongside strikes by nurses, teachers and other train workers demanding higher wages as inflation and mortgage rates surged.

“Our members have spoken in huge numbers to accept this offer,” RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said in statement.

Acceptance of the offer set out by Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which includes a backdated 2022 pay rise of 5% for staff and job security guarantees, still leaves a dispute over planned changes to working practices and negotiations over future pay.

“This is welcome news for passengers and a significant step towards resolving industrial disputes on the railway,” transport minister Mark Harper said, adding that it could also lead to long overdue reforms.

The RDG is also still engaged in a separate dispute with the ASLEF train drivers’ union who have scheduled a fresh round of strikes in December over pay and working conditions.

“This welcome vote from RMT members will unlock a pay rise for our people, and means that fair agreements have now been reached with three out of the four unions involved in the recent industrial dispute,” a RDG spokesperson said.

The government has reached deals to settle industrial action with teaching unions and the medical union representing senior doctors in England in an effort to end strikes.

A separate dispute over pay and conditions with junior doctors is still ongoing.

Data from Britain’s statistics office said in 2022 the United Kingdom recorded the highest number of working days lost to labour disputes for more than 30 years.

(Reporting by Muvija M, writing by Farouq Suleiman; Editing by Kate Holton and Sarah Young and Elaine Hardcastle)