Mick Lynch: Only ‘sensible’ proposals will bring end to rail strikes
Only “sensible” proposals will bring the ongoing rail dispute to an end, according to union leader Mick Lynch.
After disrupting Christmas plans for millions of Britons, walkouts at Network Rail and 14 other operators will resume from tomorrow.
Members of the union RMT will down tools on Tuesday, Wednesday as well as Friday and Saturday while train drivers at 15 companies will walk out on Thursday.
Elizabeth line staff will instead strike next Monday.
Passengers have been warned to travel only if necessary as around 20 per cent of trains will be operating, with services starting much later, around 7.30am, and finishing around 6.30pm.
“There’s been too much disruption on the railway caused by government policy and if we can get sensible proposals we can work up towards a solution,” said Lynch.
The RMT union leader told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he hasn’t heard from both rail operators since mid-December, whilst accusing the government of blocking any resolution.
“In this dispute there is an unprecedented level of ministerial interference, which is hamstringing rail employers from being able to negotiate a package of measures with us, so we can settle this dispute,” the union leader said.
The accusation has repeatedly been denied by the DfT, which has maintained that its position was that of facilitator, not negotiator.
Network Rail told City A.M. no talks had taken place during the festive period “as disruption was locked in with timetables” and staff schedules had to be sorted out before the holidays.
While the Rail Delivery Group – which negotiates on behalf of train companies – said the dispute will only be resolved “by agreeing the long overdue reforms to working arrangements needed to put the industry on a sustainable footing.”
A spokesperson for the DfT has called on unions to “step back” from the industrial action.
“It’s time the unions came to the table and played their part as well,” they said. “Unions should step back from this strike action so we can start 2023 by ending this damaging dispute.”