The RMT has turned down a proposal from rail employers which means more strike chaos is on the way.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) promised the union an eight percent pay rise over two years, with no compulsory layoffs until April 2024.
This was an attempt to settle a long-running disagreement over jobs, wages, and working conditions, but has been rejected.
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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 and would leave our railways chronically understaffed.”
DOO is a driver-only operation, with drivers controlling all carriage doors.
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He said: “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 from 14 train operators and Network Rail are planning two 48-hour strikes later this month.
The RDG said its offer will result in “vital and long overdue” changes to working conditions.
It said that the initial framework agreement allowed the RMT the chance of scrapping its scheduled strike and presenting the offer to its membership.
RDG said the strikes slated on December 13-14 and 16-17, will cause a month of disruption on the network.
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A spokesperson said the proposal was “fair and affordable”.
As part of the talks, the RDG said it has suggested modernising the process of buying tickets at stations.
The proposals include ticket office staff moving out from behind glass screens to other areas 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.”
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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.”
Mark Harper, the transport secretary, called the RMT’s statement “incredibly disappointing” and “unfair” to the public, passengers, and rail workers.
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He said: “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.”
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association’s organising director, Luke Chester, said he had sought an immediate meeting with the RDG on Monday, December 5.
After receiving new proposals from both Network Rail and the RDG, the union decided “to seek to address our concerns.”
Source: The Guardian
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