RMT’s boss Mick Lynch is set to meet with transport secretary Mark Harper tomorrow as the rail strikes announced yesterday are set to disrupt the festive period.
The union announced on Tuesday that more than 40,000 of its members working at Network Rail and 14 other train operators will walk out throughout December and January following a breakdown in negotiations.
Workers will strike on 13, 14, 16, 17 December as well as 3, 4, 6, 7 January – falling slap bang in the middle of the hospitality and retail sectors’ busiest trading period.
Lynch has accused the government’s “dead hand” of presiding over the negotiations, which have become a “farce.”
“The employers are in disarray and saying different things to different people, sometimes at the same time,” the general secretary said on Tuesday.
“This whole process has become a farce that only the new secretary of state can resolve.”
Over the last few months, the relationship with the Department for Transport (DfT) has soured, with unions repeatedly accusing ministers of blocking negotiations.
Things became quite tense with former transport secretary Grant Shapps, who always disputed any involvement in the negotiations.
The situation seemingly improved with the appointment of Anne-Marie Trevelyan, but unions always said train operating companies lacked any real power.
The RMT’s assistant general secretary John Leach said the transport secretary should “put his shoulder behind the wheel and gets a deal moving.”
“Let’s hope that the third secretary of state down in England in less than six months has got something better to say than Grant Shapps and Anne-Marie Trevelyan before him and actually puts his shoulder behind the wheel and gets a deal moving,” Leach told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday.
The DfT was approached for comment.