Nighttime shot of snowy London skyline showing railway tracks approaching London Bridge with The Shard on the skyline

UK Strikes enter bleak midwinter

Snowy London skyline approaching London Bridge and The Shard Network Rail

After negotiations took a setback at the weekend, trades union members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) have voted to turn down an offer tabled by employers. The rejection means a widespread strike by staff at Network Rail and British passenger railway operators will go ahead over the Christmas period. The action will affect planned engineering works across the network, and will likely mean rescheduling into 2023.

RMT members from Network Rail have voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest offer from company bosses. It means that all strike action this week, from 1800hrs on Christmas Eve until 0600hrs on December 27 – and planned action in the new year – will go ahead at the national infrastructure agency Network Rail, and at the 14 passenger train operating companies that fall under the mandate of the UK government’s Department for transport.

Employers to impose terms from Thursday

Figures supplied by the RMT claim that the ballot on the pay offer from Network Rail returned over three quarters of members against the deal. 63.6 per cent voted to reject the Network Rail offer on an 83 per cent turnout. The RMT has around 40,000 members across the rail industry at large.

The Network Rail offer included a five per cent in year one and a four per cent in year two pay rise over a two-year period. The RMT say that the package would also have required them to accept thousands of job losses, a fifty per cent cut in scheduled maintenance tasks and a thirty per cent increase in unsocial hours. The RMT further says Network Rail will impose these changes, regardless of the ballot, from this Thursday, 15 December. Ironically, Thursday is the only remaining strike free day this week on Britain’s railways, but operations are expected to be severely affected by bad weather.

Only Network Rail is on strike from 6pm Christmas Eve until 6am December 27, specifically targeting engineering works. All other scheduled strike action on 13,14,16 and 17 December and January 3,4,6 and 7 will involve Network Rail and 14 passenger train operating companies under mandate of the Department for Transport.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is UK correspondent for and

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