Fresh rail strikes over Christmas as union turns down pay offer

Extra industrial action is planned from 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Union leaders have rejected revised offers to end strikes on Scotland’s railways and announced more industrial action over Christmas.

The RMT announced it was recommending its members reject the latest offer from Network Rail as it confirmed it would hold an electronic referendum on the deal.

The union said all strike action planned for December 13, 14, 16 and 17 will go ahead as planned.

It also announced further strike action will take place from between 6pm on Christmas Eve, December 24, through to 5.59am, December 27.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the union had been compelled to take this action due to the continuing “intransigence” of the employers.

“We remain available for talks in order to resolve these issues but we will not bow to pressure from the employers and the government to the detriment of our members,” he said.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “This response from the RMT to a significantly enhanced offer exposes their true priority – using the British public and Network Rail workers as pawns in a fight with the Government.

“What use is a referendum that means that strike disruption is inevitable? At best it’s the tactic the RMT played in October by calling the strikes off at the last minute and causing immense disruption to passengers and vital freight routes.

“They are playing fast and loose with people’s Christmas plans and the new strike dates announced deliberately target vital engineering work designed to improve the railway.

“A significantly improved offer is now on the table that gives Network Rail workers job security, a decent pay rise and some other substantial benefits for employees and their families.”

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that, despite a new and improved deal offering job security and a fair pay rise, the RMT is not only continuing with upcoming industrial action but has called more strikes over Christmas.

“It’s especially disappointing given the TSSA union has described this new and improved deal as the ‘best we can achieve through negotiation’ and called off strikes.

“The Government has played its part by facilitating a fair and decent offer but, by instructing its members to reject it, the RMT has failed to play its part and our rail network now faces more harmful disruption rather than helpful discussion.”

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