Train strikes: RMT union members vote to accept pay deal on eve of Aslef train drivers’ action

Looking ahead: Mick Lynch (centre), general secretary of the RMT union, on the picket line at Euston during a previous strike (Simon Calder)
Looking ahead: Mick Lynch (centre), general secretary of the RMT union, on the picket line at Euston during a previous strike (Simon Calder)

Members of the RMT, the UK’s biggest rail union, have voted overwhelmingly to back a settlement for their long and bitter dispute with 14 train operators.

The quarrel over pay, jobs and working arrangements triggered a series of national strikes, starting in June 2022.

In an online referendum held for the past three weeks, the vote in favour was about 90 per cent on a turn-out of around 80 per cent, meaning that seven out of 10 RMT members who were eligible voted to accept.

The settlement will see a backdated pay award for 2022 of at least 5 per cent or £1,750, whichever is the higher. That will see the wages of lower-paid staff rising by up to 13 per cent. Rail firms are expected to pay the backdated rise before Christmas.

Further pay awards are to be negotiated, alongside reforms to working arrangements, from the New Year.

The 14 train operators – all of whom are contracted by the Department for Transport (DfT) to run services – had previously insisted any pay increase would be contingent on increased productivity.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “Our members have spoken in huge numbers to accept this unconditional pay offer and no compulsory redundancies until the end of 2024.

"I want to congratulate them on their steadfastness in this long industrial campaign.

“We will be negotiating further with the train operators over reforms they want to see. And we will never shy away from vigorously defending our members terms and conditions, now or in the future.

“This campaign shows that sustained strike action and unity gets results and our members should be proud of the role they have played in securing this deal.”

The transport secretary, Mark Harper, said: “This is welcome news for passengers and a significant step towards resolving industrial disputes on the railway, giving workers a pay rise before Christmas and a pathway to delivering long overdue reforms.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “This welcome vote from RMT members will unlock a pay rise for our people, and means that fair agreements have now been reached with three out of the four unions involved in the recent industrial dispute.”

The first national rail strikes since the 1980s began on 21 June 2022 and have continued intermittently since then.

Last month RMT members voted 90:10 in favour of more industrial action, on a turn out of 64 per cent.

But with members typically having lost thousands of pounds during a series of strikes, the union leadership was seeking an acceptable deal.

The task was made easier when train operators withdrew plans for closing the vast majority of ticket offices at stations in England. The government had ordered the rail firms to produce closure plans, but then told them to ditch the proposals.

The RMT peace deal comes as train drivers belonging to Aslef begin a nine-day stretch of industrial action, involving an overtime ban and region-by-region one-day strikes.