Train strike latest: Rail bosses put double-digit pay hikes on table to see off walkout threat

Rail bosses last night tabled a double-digit pay rise offer for the lowest-paid workers in a bid to avert a summer of strikes.

Network Rail offered members of the militant RMT union with a salary below £24,000 the equivalent of a 13 per cent pay rise over two years.

It would come with ‘no strings attached’ this year and be back-dated to January.

But it would be dependent on the RMT accepting modernisation of some working practices next year. 

Over this year and next, the percentage increase is more than the current 11.7 per cent RPI rate of inflation.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch (pictured) today threatened to coordinate strike action with other unions

Members shelter under a tree during a heavy shower on the picket line outside Kings Cross station on June 23

Members shelter under a tree during a heavy shower on the picket line outside Kings Cross station on June 23

Travellers at Victoria Coach Station amid the biggest rail strikes in 30 years with trains cancelled across the UK last month

Travellers at Victoria Coach Station amid the biggest rail strikes in 30 years with trains cancelled across the UK last month

For higher-paid workers on salaries of more than £60,000, the offer would be worth just over 5 per cent this year and next. All workers will receive a cash bonus this year and next of around £650, with lower-paid staff given an extra £250.

They would also get a 75 per cent discount on rail fares, including for their spouses and children, and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies – a key demand of the RMT.

Network Rail bosses believe the two-year pay offer is generous and are preparing to cut union barons out of talks and go straight to staff to try to push through a deal if it is rejected.

Sources said this would be in the form of an internal referendum as they believe workers will accept the offer.

A pay offer was also made to the TSSA rail union, whose members have also voted for strike action. Because it represents better-paid workers in managerial roles, the offer was a slightly lower 4 per cent rise for this year and 3 per cent for 2023 if some modernisation of working practices is accepted. They would also receive £650 bonuses and 75 per cent discounted rail travel.

RMT boss Mick Lynch said the union’s national executive committee (NEC) will consider the offer this morning, but indicated it would be rejected. He also threatened to coordinate with the TSSA and train drivers’ union Aslef, whose members have also voted for walkouts. Workers for all three unions, which represent around 90,000 rail workers, could stage a national strike at the end of this month or early August.

Passengers walk along a platform after disembarking a busy train at Waterloo station, on a day of heavily reduced rail service on the third day of national rail strikes on June 23

Passengers walk along a platform after disembarking a busy train at Waterloo station, on a day of heavily reduced rail service on the third day of national rail strikes on June 23

Train drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay, increasing the threat of huge disruption to rail services this summer. Members of the drivers union Aslef at eight train companies backed campaigns of industrial action

Train drivers have voted overwhelmingly to strike over pay, increasing the threat of huge disruption to rail services this summer. Members of the drivers union Aslef at eight train companies backed campaigns of industrial action

Mr Lynch said: ‘Our NEC will have to make a decision on this offer tomorrow. But Network Rail and the train-operating companies need to understand that RMT has done deals with both London Underground and recently Merseyrail that were well in excess of what our members are being offered here [8.4 per cent and 7.1 per cent pay rises respectively].

‘We will not hesitate to call further strike action and seek to coordinate with Aslef and TSSA, if the rail industry will not seek a negotiated settlement with us.’

TSSA boss Manuel Cortes also suggested his union will reject the deal, saying: ‘These latest offers don’t come close to what our Network Rail members expect. After years of pay freezes, these latest proposals will only bake in real-terms pay cuts.

‘However, we note that, after over a decade of a commitment by Network Rail bosses to no compulsory redundancies, this is back on the table.

‘Frankly, the company only threatened compulsory redundancies to seek to cow our members into accepting a rubbish pay deal.’

Even if the RMT and TSSA accept the offers, disputes between all three unions and train operators covering most of the country will still be outstanding. But it could lessen the impact of strikes and potentially pave the way for a breakthrough in talks over the remaining disputes.

It comes after Aslef this week accepted a deal with ScotRail which included a 5 per cent rise in basic pay.

Network Rail, which manages track maintenance and signalling, wants to modernise working practices to unlock millions of pounds of savings.

Of the latest offer, a Network Rail spokesman said: ‘While money is extremely tight because of the railways’ financial troubles following the pandemic, we can afford to make this offer if our people accept change and compromise, which will fund it.’

The Department for Transport said: ‘This offer is a step towards the modern, reliable and resilient railway we want to deliver.’