Network Rail staff have rejected the latest pay offer and will go ahead with two 48-hour strikes this week, the RMT union has announced.
Passengers travelling by rail are set to be hit by significant disruption which will continue throughout the Christmas period as workers walk out in the dispute over pay and conditions.
Rail services in Scotland will be affected from Tuesday as staff walk out in two 48-hour strikes over December 13 and 14, and December 16 and 17 – some of the busiest days before Christmas.
The RMT said 63.6% voted to reject Network Rail’s offer on an 83% turnout.
General secretary Mick Lynch said: “This is a huge rejection of Network Rail’s substandard offer and shows that our members are determined to take further strike action in pursuit of a negotiated settlement.
“The Government is refusing to lift a finger to prevent these strikes and it is clear they want to make effective strike action illegal in Britain.
“We will resist that and our members, along with the entire trade union movement, will continue their campaign for a square deal for workers, decent pay increases and good working conditions.”
ScotRail will deliver a similar level of service to previous strikes with the trains running across 12 routes in the central belt, Fife and the Borders.
On December 15, the same limited service will remain in place.
Network Rail had offered a 5% pay rise for this year – backdated to January – with another 4% at the start of 2023 and a guarantee of no compulsory job losses until January 2025.
The RMT’s executive recommended rejecting the offer, saying it was linked to “significant” changes to working practices.
RMT workers at Network Rail will also strike from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27.
Passengers planning to travel on Christmas Eve will likely be urged to complete their journeys by the time industrial action begins.
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: “The RMT leadership needs to think long and hard about what to do next. Further strike action will cause further misery for the rail industry and for their members who will lose pay.
“This news is especially frustrating given that we learnt today that colleagues represented by Unite union have accepted the very same offer put to RMT members. The RMT are the outliers here. They need to stop playing politics and work with us to bring this dispute to an end.
“There is clearly a significant number of Network Rail colleagues who want this deal but are caught up by these needless strikes and collective bargaining. Our offer, which is worth over 9% with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no changes to anyone’s terms and conditions, remains on the table. Our railway still faces a real financial crisis and because of that we will continue with the consultation around the implementation of the maintenance reforms.
“Sadly, with strikes now set to go ahead, passengers can expect to see widespread rail disruption throughout the week. We will continue to work closely with operators to run as many services as possible but we continue to ask passengers to only travel if absolutely necessary.”