Network Rail engineers on the line in December

UK rail union targets maintenance with additional Christmas walk out

Network Rail workers, source: Network RailSource: Network Rail media

Rail union RMT has announced that it will wreck the Christmas maintenance schedule with a four-day stoppage over the holiday period. The union has called out its members at Network Rail and most of the passenger train operating companies from 24-27 December, throwing the plans of infrastructure agency Network Rail into disarray.

The strike will be in addition to the series of 48-hour stoppages already called by the union for dates in December and January. They commence with a walk out next week, on 13-14 December. The news comes after talks were held over the weekend and on Monday with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents employers in the passenger, freight and infrastructure sectors.

de facto General Strike

Observers said it could not happen, but Britain is heading for a de facto General Strike. A series of industrial disputes are combining to bring much of the economy and the national infrastructure to a halt over December and into the new year. Next week, on 16 and 17 December, in addition to rail workers in the RMT union, many bus drivers will be out of their cabs and on picket lines. They’ll be joined by highway workers and driving examiners, as well as baggage handlers at London Heathrow Airport.

The previous day will see union workers at Royal Mail stage their fourth day of strike action in December. At least no postmen will be in need off treatment for dog bites – which is just as well, since an unprecedented strike by nurses will leave hospitals short of cover for all but emergency medical cases.

Even less likely to be resolved

Although talks continue, resolution of the long running series of disputes in the railway industry seem even less likely to be resolved. Train drivers union Aslef, and the TSSA (Transport and Allied Staff Association) have been involved in disputes over the summer, and can only be described as dormant at present.

Government sources claim that the national executive of the RMT has rejected the most recent pay offer and package without presenting it to its membership. The union says that it regrets the inconvenience caused by their action, but blames the UK government for directing industry negotiators to refrain from making any improvements to the rejected offer.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

Log in through one of the following social media partners to comment.