Lynch honest about the potential for further strike action after RMT union members accept Network Rail offer
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has said he ‘can’t rule out’ further strike action this year if economic conditions don’t improve, following rail workers accepting the latest offer from Network Rail.
Union members from RMT voted to accept the deal from Network Rail, putting an end to the long-running dispute, however futher industrial action was not off the cards.
The offer includes a total uplift on basic earnings between 15.2% for the lowest paid grades to 10.3% for the highest paid grades.
In an interview with Times Radio yesterday, Lynch said that although the dispute was concluded, the deal was ‘modest’ and future strikes could not be ruled out if the rail company failed to deliver a meaningful deal to workers for the next pay year.
He added that he would not be celebrating the offer, with inflation still sky high, issues over conditions to work through and with negotiations over pay for 2024 coming in the near future.
“There will be no celebrations about this deal, it’s modest and that’s the best I can say about it,” Lynch told Times Radio.
“There are no more strikes in Network Rail on this dispute but when we get through the change programme it will be time to negotiate next year’s pay deal, the 2024 deal.
“Hopefully we can work constructively with the company on that but we always reserve our right to be in dispute through the collective bargaining structures.”
RMT union made no recommendations to members on whether to accept or reject the latest Network Rail offer.
Commenting on the state of economic affairs right now, Lynch said future strikes could not be rule out if that’s what members choose.
“If they make us a very poor offer and inflation is still rocketing away the way people are experiencing it at the minute, and this is an under inflation pay deal for these two years.
“So I don’t know what mood our members will be in, but I don’t how what mood Network Rail will be in and what they’ll offer, so I can’t rule it out but I’m not ruling it in either.”
However Lynch added that although the deal was ‘modest’ it was more than double what was on offer at the start of the dispute, when Network Rail told RMT workers would only get a 2 to 3 per cent pay rise.
The deal also includes travel facilities for network rail staff which the union had been seeking to secure for 25 years since the privatisation of rail services.
Network Rail also withdrew their previous pre-condition that the RMT accept the company’s ‘modernising maintenance’ agenda, which the union will continue to scrutinise and challenge.
The deal therefore reflects the impact of strike action and the failure of government attempts to demonise striking rail workers and unions, as Lynch summed up: “Industrial action is a tool that working people should use and can use to their benefit.”
Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward
(Photo credit: Sky News / YouTube)
Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust