Brits could be facing more travel chaos in the weeks leading up to Christmas, after a fortnight of talks between a rail union and operating firms broke down.
The RMT said negotiations to avert industrial with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms, collapsed on Monday, and that there was “the hand of the Tory government” involved.
Its general secretary confirmed that union bosses would meet on Tuesday to consider “further phases of sustained industrial action”.
This comes after the union called off a strike earlier this month, but because it was done so last minute, there will still massive disruption.
The RMT claimed the RDG (or train operating company TOC) had “without any credible explanation” renaged on a promise made jobs and pay. Its leader Mick Lynch also took aim at Network Rail at going back on agreements made in talks last week, after strikes were called off.
General secretary Mick Lynch claimed that “after a fortnight of talks, the TOCs had committed to making a firm offer in writing for the first time today.”
“They cancelled the meeting at an hour’s notice, and we can sense the hand of the Tory government in this as we believe that they are not allowing an offer to be made.”
Saying there will be a meeting of its National Executive Committee today, he would be “recommending that we set out further phases of sustained industrial action in support of our members.
A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We have made real progress over the last fortnight and for the first time in months we can see the outline of a credible deal.
“Any strikes will only cause further misery for customers and struggling businesses in the run up to Christmas and beyond.”
“The RMT leadership should now remove any uncertainty around Christmas and commit to protecting everyone’s first festive period post Covid from any strike disruption.
“The alternative is a bleak winter of industrial action, making it harder to find workable solutions to bring about the much-needed changes that will help secure the railway’s future and unlock the funds for a pay offer. Revenues are still 20% down on 2019 level and this dispute has brought the industry’s post-pandemic recovery to a shuddering halt – with strikes since June resulting in lost revenue of £250-£300m.
“We urge the RMT leadership to stay at the negotiating table so we can build on that progress and end a dispute that is harming passengers and businesses, the industry, and their members.”
A Department for Transport Spokesperson said: “Negotiations are between unions and employers and it is incorrect to claim the Government is holding them up. It’s vital such talks continue and all parties work together to avoid more damaging strike action, and prevent further chaos on the railways. The very future of the industry depends on it.”