Government deliberately squandered billions in rail dispute, RMT claims


RMT has accused the Government of “deliberately squandering” billions of pounds in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), has written to MPs criticising the Government for its “futile war” against the rail unions.

He urged MPs to write to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to insist the Government facilitates an improved offer that “will protect staffing and services, and deliver a fairer deal for rail workers”.

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The move came as RMT members staged a fresh strike which will disrupt services.

Mr Lynch wrote: “There is further strike action on the railways on Friday because workers, passengers and taxpayers are being asked to pay the price for the Government’s disastrous mismanagement of the economy and public transport.

“Rather than deliver a plan to improve public transport and the economy, we have seen three prime ministers preside over a year of chaos since the first strike action in June 2022.

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“In contrast, there is no strike action on railways controlled by the Scottish and Welsh governments because these governments have adopted a fair and less ideological approach to industrial relations.

“Instead of working to end the dispute, amidst a cost-of-living crisis it appears to have no idea how to tackle, the UK Government has spent the last year squandering billions of pounds on a futile war against the rail unions, all in the name of delivering reforms that passengers do not want.

“The cumulative cost of this disastrous strategy is now estimated at £5 billion.

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“Whilst passengers want more assistance and support, the Government are insisting there must be less staff on stations and trains.

“While businesses and unions want an agreement, the Government insist the cost to the economy of strike action is a price worth paying.

“While the public want transport run in the public interest, the Government are protecting the vested interests and vast profits of the privatised railway.”

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Mr Lynch said RMT members have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in reballots.

“As we reach the anniversary of the first strike action, I would urge you to write to the Prime Minister to demand the Government change course and facilitate an improved offer that will protect staffing and services and deliver a fairer deal for rail workers.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “These strikes have been coordinated by union leaders to disrupt passengers in a week which will see major events such as the first ever all Manchester FA Cup final, the Epsom Derby and a number of concerts and festivals across the UK.

“Not content with impacting the hundreds of thousands of people who have looked forward to these events all year round, unions are also targeting their own members’ pockets by forcing them to miss out on pay every time they strike.

“The Government has facilitated a fair and reasonable pay offer, now union leaders must do the right thing and put this to their members.”

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