A UK rail union that’s staged a series of strikes over more than a year said it’s putting a deal with rail companies to a vote among members, paving the way to ending a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
The agreement with the Rail Delivery Group — which represents train operators across the UK — would include a backdated pay rise for 2022 and job security guarantees, the RMT said on Wednesday in a statement. A ballot on whether to accept it will be open to members until the end of November, it said.
The vote lays the ground to ending a period of industrial action that has disrupted travel for ordinary commuters for months, as well as hitting travelers to events as diverse as English soccer’s FA cup, the Eurovision song contest, and the Conservative Party Conference. It would also ensure the Christmas period is strike-free.
The move also alleviates pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government, which has overseen the worst period of industrial unrest since Margaret Thacher was in power, as nurses, doctors and teachers over the past year joined the rail workers in walking out over pay and conditions.
Last Christmas, businesses across London suffered the effect of reduced footfall as rail unions put pressure on the government throughout the festive period. Major disruption is still possible throughout the holiday period as another rail union, ASLEF, is still in dispute with train operators.
The RMT’s deal would create a pause in industrial action into next spring, allowing the union and rail companies to hammer out an agreement on proposed reforms to the operation of Britain’s train services, the union said.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said the government welcomed the RMT’s decision to “this fair and reasonable offer to its members in a referendum, marking a positive step towards resolving this dispute.”