A breakthrough has been announced in the long-running dispute involving railway workers over pay and jobs.
After talks between the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, a so-called memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been developed and sets out a process for a mutually agreed way forward.
That will include a backdated 2022 pay rise for staff and job security guarantees, the RMT said.
RMT members in each of the train operating companies involved in the row will now vote on the suggested agreement.
If accepted, the MOU will terminate the national dispute mandate, creating a pause and respite from industrial action over the Christmas period and into next spring, allowing for negotiations on proposed reforms to take place at local train operating company level, the union said.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “This is a welcome development and our members will now decide in an e-referendum whether they want to accept this new offer from the RDG.”
Speaking on ITV1’s Peston, Mr Lynch said strikes will be called off for six months if his members accept the latest pay deal.
“It will go into negotiations starting next February, and that will go on until April,” he said.
“So we’ve got six months of downtime if you like, a pause, and what we’ve also got is the ability to negotiate on those issues rather than have them imposed.”
He also told the programme that the RMT would put the new pay deal offer to members because it has no conditions on it but cannot recommend the offer as it is below the rate of inflation.
“So we’ve got an unconditional offer, but the offer is still way below the rate of inflation, which is why we can’t recommend it,” he said.
“There will be a lot of back pay for our members because they haven’t had a pay rise for so long, and we’ve still got to deal with pay issues for this year, for the 2023 year, and for the next year which is coming up quickly over the horizon.”
An RDG spokesperson said: “These discussions would be aimed at addressing the companies’ proposals on the changing needs and expectations of passengers as well as unlocking further increases for staff, in order to help to secure a sustainable, long-term future for the railway and all those who work on it.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We welcome the RMT putting this fair and reasonable offer to its members in a referendum, marking a positive step towards resolving this dispute.
“The Rail Delivery Group’s offer guarantees no compulsory redundancies and a fair pay rise, while ensuring we can take forward much-needed reform to secure the future of our railways.
“We hope RMT members will recognise the benefits, accept this offer and put an end to the RMT’s industrial action.”