Commuters could be hit by more disruption after members of the biggest rail workers’ union voted in favor of more strikes.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said staff working for 14 train companies overwhelmingly backed a mandate to take further industrial action over the next six months as part of a long-running dispute on wages and conditions.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the result was a de facto referendum on the pay offer they have been made.
“It is clear from these results that members are not ready to accept a pay offer based on massive job cuts and major attacks on their terms and conditions,” he said.
“This sends a clear message to employers that the great anger among rail workers is very real and they need to recognize that fact, face reality and come up with improved proposals.
“They need to be around the table with RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers.”
Unions involved in disputes must re-vote their members every six months to legally continue strikes and other forms of action.
The RMT has already done this announced a strike against the train companies on May 13, the day of the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool.
The decision came after union leaders declined the latest payment offer of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operating companies.
Lynch said the RDG had “torpedoed” negotiations by reneging on a 9% offer the union had been considering for several weeks, and made the first-year 5% pay deal conditional on the withdrawal of its strike action mandate.
The RMT said this would remove its “industrial leverage at the bargaining table” and left it with no choice but to strike.
Machinists from the Aslef union, who are involved in a separate conflict with the GDR, have also announced strikes on Friday 12 May, Wednesday 31 May and Saturday 3 June, the latter on the day of the soccer cup final and the Epsom Derby. .
But the GDR has described the action as “unnecessary” and accused the unions of “meaninglessly directing both the Eurovision final and the FA Cup final”.
The company spoke to the RMT after the latest announcement, saying that while the results of the vote are “disappointing, it’s unfortunately not surprising either”.
“The vote that really matters is for the deal on the table developed in conjunction with RMT negotiators, but subsequently rejected outright by its executive committee.
“RMT members would be forgiven for wondering why they are only being offered a vote to extend this dispute and never a vote to end it.”
In February, the RMT’s executive committee rejected what it called a “terrible” offer for a 5% pay rise before January last year and a 4% pay rise by 2023. The Mr. Lynch said changes to labor practices that would come with the deal would result in thousands of job losses and make railroads less safe.
But he was criticized by unions and the government for not putting the offer to a vote of RMT members.