A resolution in the long-running rail dispute is a long way off, after a last-minute government intervention in talks over wages, jobs and conditions, a union has claimed.
The Railway, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) said it had heard from rail companies that there would be no revised offer from them, after being “instructed” by the government at the place to “undertake” the strikes scheduled for next week.
The RMT said: ‘It is now absolutely clear that the Rail Delivery Group’s attempts to resolve the dispute by making a revised and improved offer have been blocked by the government.
“The companies know that RMT cannot and will never accept the implementation of Drivers Only Operation (DOO) as a national principle of railway operation.
“It is also clear that it was the government itself, not the RDG, who insisted that the DOO be inserted into the proposals on Sunday evening as a precondition, and the responsibility for the failure to advance the proposals toward a resolution rests solely with the government, which torpedoed the dispute resolution process.
“The industrial action planned for the members of the RMT rail operating company is proceeding as planned, as there is no resolution of the dispute and in fact a resolution is now more distant due to the late intervention of the government in the negotiation process.”
Steve Montgomery, Chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Unfortunately, RMT management’s refusal to take our proposed 8% wage offer to its members means that we are unable to reach a resolution at this stage, although we remain open to talks. With the deadline having passed where disruption could be avoided even if the strikes were called off, our aim is to give passengers as much certainty as possible so they can make their festive plans.
“No one wanted to see these strikes continue, and we can only apologize to passengers and the many businesses that will be affected by this unnecessary and damaging disruption.
“We continue to urge RMT leaders to present our proposals to their members rather than condemning them to weeks of lost wages either side of Christmas during a cost of living crisis.”
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘The RMT has deliberately chosen to try to ruin Christmas for millions of passengers and businesses. They also intend to inflict a monumental act of harm on an industry still desperate to recover from post-Covid challenges by sabotaging a vital £100million rail modernization program scheduled for Christmas Day and the day after Christmas.
“The industry will do everything in its power to keep services running and projects on track, but serious disruption is inevitable given the action of the RMT.
“In discussions over the months, we have sought to address all of the RMT’s concerns by putting a decent pay rise on the table, securing employment for all who want it, significantly increasing base salaries for the lowest paid and by offering a huge new rail travel discount program for members and their families.By all reasonable measures, we have put a fair deal on the table.