Rail strikes: RMT members to vote on 'new and improved' Network Rail pay offer

Paddington Station empty in London during a rail strike.
Paddington Station, in London, as it ground to a halt during an earlier rail strike. Credit: PA

Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) members at Network Rail will begin voting on an offer aimed at resolving the bitter industrial dispute on Thursday.

The referendum on what the union described as a "new and improved" offer will run until Monday, March 20.

The RMT said the proposal "involves extra money" and is not conditional on accepting Network Rail’s maintenance reforms.

Network Rail has always insisted pay rises can only be funded through modernising how it carries out maintenance, and has already started consulting on changes.

John Ray explains what the latest breakthrough could mean in the ongoing saga

The RMT has been engaged in national rail strikes since June last year.

Workers at Network Rail were due to strike again on March 16, but in a surprise development on Tuesday night the RMT announced the suspension of its action at the government-owned company, after receiving the new offer.

A strike by RMT members at 14 train operators is still scheduled to take place on March 16, 18 and 30 and April 1, and is expected to cause major disruption.

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the companies, has urged the union to also call of those walk outs and put its latest offer to a vote.

Plans for a Tube strike by London Underground workers on Wednesday, March 15 also remain unchanged.

The union said it is better than a previous offer it rejected as the 2023 pay rise would be backdated to October 2022.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: "Network Rail’s offer amounts to an uplift on salaries of between 14.4% for the lowest paid grades to 9.2% for the highest paid."

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said his organisation was "relieved for our people, passengers and freight customers that industrial action in Network Rail has now been suspended".

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “After months of strikes, the RMT are putting this very fair offer to its members in a neutral referendum, marking a positive step in resolving this dispute.

“In line with the existing mandate, Network Rail’s offer guarantees competitive pay rises and no compulsory redundancies, while ensuring we can take forward much-needed reform to secure the future of our railways. We hope RMT members will recognise the benefits, accept this offer and put an end to industrial action.”

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The RMT is not making a recommendation on how its members should vote in the referendum.

General secretary Mick Lynch said: "Network Rail have made a new and improved offer and now our members will decide whether to accept it.

"We will continue our campaign for a negotiated settlement on all aspects of the railway dispute."