Millions of rail passengers in England are facing train cancellations as the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) union announced two more days of strikes, extending into September. The RMT blames the lack of progress in negotiations with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators. The strikes are scheduled to take place on 26 August and 2 September, affecting 14 train operators, including major intercity and commuter services in England. These strikes will particularly impact leisure travellers, including families returning from holidays, music fans attending the Reading Festival, rugby supporters attending the England-Fiji match at Twickenham, and football fans on both weekends. Transport for Wales and ScotRail will not be affected by the strikes.
Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT, announced the strike, stating that the union’s members remain solid and determined in their dispute over pay, job security, and working conditions. He highlighted the lack of an improved or revised offer from the RDG, attributing it to the government failing to provide a fresh mandate for discussions. Lynch stated that the union and its members will continue to fight until a negotiated settlement is reached.
The upcoming strikes are part of a long-running dispute over pay and working arrangements that began 14 months ago. The train drivers’ union, Aslef, is also involved in a similar dispute. Currently, drivers are participating in an overtime ban, which will continue until midnight on 12 August.
The RDG expressed disappointment with the RMT’s decision to call more strikes, claiming that it targets customers looking to enjoy various events and the end of the summer holidays, disrupting their plans and increasing road traffic. The RDG has made three offers, the latest of which would have provided staff with pay rises of up to 13% and job security guarantees. However, the RMT executive blocked these offers without a convincing explanation. The RDG remains open to talks but emphasizes the need for the union leadership and executive to unite in their demands and address the 30% shortfall in revenue that the industry is dealing with post-Covid.
The Department for Transport expressed disappointment with the RMT leadership’s decision to call more strikes, particularly targeting the Bank Holiday weekend. The government has facilitated fair and reasonable pay offers but claims that union bosses are prolonging the dispute by blocking their members from voting on these offers. The department urges that members be given their say and that the disruption comes to an end.
These strikes mark the first national rail walk-outs since the 1980s and began on 21 June 2022. With the latest strikes announced, there will have been a total of 35 strike days by the RMT since then. Talks have not taken place since April 2023.