Rail workers at 14 train operators are to strike on the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final after union leaders rejected the latest offer aimed at resolving a long-running pay dispute.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on May 13 after the union’s executive turned down a “clarification“ on an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).
The RMT said the offer included a first-year payment of 5% but only if the union terminated its industrial mandate, meaning no further strike action could take place.
The union said discussions would then have to begin without it having any industrial leverage at the negotiating table.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The RDG have reneged on their original proposals and torpedoed these negotiations.
“No doubt their decision is due to pressure exerted on them by the Tory Government.
“Therefore, we have no alternative but to press ahead with more strike action and continue our campaign for a negotiated settlement on pay, conditions and job security.
“We are re-balloting our members and if we beat the draconian anti-trade union laws on turnout, we will have a renewed mandate for action.
“We will then put on a further programme of strike action to make the employers and the Government, who continue to hold the puppet strings, see sense in this dispute.”
The RMT is re-balloting its members on 14 train operating companies on whether to continue taking industrial action, with a result expected on May 4.
The union said if it beats all the legal thresholds for turnout and achieves a “yes” vote, it will have a further six-month strike mandate.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Passengers have been forced to endure the RMT’s strike action for almost a year, yet the RMT executive is intent on continuing to force its members to lose even more pay. That’s despite having a best and final offer, similar to the pay offer their Network Rail members recently voted to overwhelmingly accept.
“By yet again denying their members a chance to have a say, and then striking over the UK’s first Eurovision event in 25 years – hosted for Ukraine – the RMT are simply further snubbing the very passengers they serve.”
Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group said: “We are blindsided by the RMT executive’s announcement – nothing has changed in the offer agreed two weeks ago by the RMT leadership in the negotiating room.
“The RMT are negotiating in bad faith, denying their members a say on a fair pay deal, needlessly disrupting the lives of millions of our passengers, and undermining the viability of an industry critical to Britain’s economy.”