Mick Lynch has said the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) strikes will “continue” until the union achieves a “targeted outcome” after what he described as a “positive meeting” with the Department for Transport.
The RMT general secretary met Transport Secretary Mark Harper today to discuss the union’s ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. The union announced on Tuesday that its members would take part in 48 hours of strike action over the next two months.
The RMT announced earlier this month that it had called off strikes on November 5, 7 and 9 and was entering an “intensive period of negotiations” with Network Rail and rail operators. But on Tuesday it said Network Rail had not made an “improved offer on jobs, pay and conditions”.
Speaking to reporters after today’s meeting, Lynch said: “We stopped the strikes two weeks ago. We gave a two-week deadline – it’s already passed, it’s almost two and a half weeks – we were told that we would get a tangible result, we would get commitments and proposals. We don’t have any of that.”
“We haven’t had a strike since the beginning of October, so there is plenty of time for this party to take action with its industrial partners,” the union leader said.
He said that the meeting with Harper was “positive” and that the parties started a dialogue: “We got rid of the bellicose nonsense we used to do. [former Transport Secretary] Grant Shapps and his cohort.”
Lynch said Harper committed to sending him a letter after the meeting outlining “how he sees us moving forward” on a resolution. He told reporters that the RMT wanted the Transport Secretary to “set out in writing” what it planned to do “about the mechanics of how to facilitate the resolution”.
He argued: “If we stop the strikes, we will never be reconciled. We did it two weeks ago. We have changed our dates in response to public opinion.” Following the Queen’s death in September, the RMT announced that two days of strike action planned for the end of the month would be called off.
Lynch said today: “We haven’t had a holiday in seven weeks. And nothing happened. So anyone involved in industrial relations knows that there must be pressure and pressure at the table from both sides, and that will produce the compromises and solutions we all seek.
“I have committed to my members. The action will continue until there is a tangible result that they can review,” he added.
Harper said after the meeting: “We have common ground – we both want the dispute to end and we both want a thriving railway that delivers for both passengers and workers. To achieve this, we need to work together across the industry to ensure our rail industry thrives.
“There is an agreement to be reached and I believe we will get there – I want to help the RMT and employers reach an agreement and end the dispute for the benefit of the traveling public.”
The RMT’s latest strike announcement follows widespread action across England’s rail network over the summer. During three days of industrial action by RMT members in June, 80% of train services were suspended.
Around one in five trains were thought to be running on half the rail network after members of the RMT and the Transport Salaried Employees Association (TSSA) went on strike on July 27.
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