Network Rail staff who are members of the RMT union will take part in an additional strike around Christmas, adding to the walk-outs planned from staff across the rail network in December and January.
The ongoing dispute over pay, jobs and conditions has seen offers rejected and recommended for rejection by the RMT union. Another union, the TSSA, has rejected an offer from rail operators - who run trains - but is considering one from Network Rail, whose staff are responsible for running stations and infrastructure like signals.
ASLEF, the train drivers' union, could add to the strike dates.
Read more: RMT union confirm additional rail strike dates over Christmas period
As things stand, the RMT - whose members are mainly made up of train and station staff but not drivers - will hold three two-day strikes in December and two in January 2023. TSSA members - who again are not usually train drivers - will take part in two 48-hour strikes in December.
December 2022 RMT and TSSA train strike dates
The RMT and TSSA plan to strike in December 2022. The RMT also has strikes planned in January 2023
RMT members who work for Network Rail and 14 rail operators - including four who run trains through Newcastle and elsewhere in the North East - will strike on Tuesday December 13, Wednesday December 14, Friday December 16 and Saturday December 17.
The 14 train companies set to be affected include four in Newcastle and around the North East: CrossCountry, LNER, Northern and Transpennine. Elsewhere in the country, it will affect Chiltern, East Midlands, C2C, Great Western, South Eastern, South Western, Avanti West Coast, Westmidlands and GTR
RMT members who work for Network Rail are due to take part in an additional strike from 6pm on December 24 until 6am on December 27.
TSSA members who work for Avanti West Coast and C2C will strike on Tuesday December 13, Wednesday December 14, Friday December 16 and Saturday December 17. TSSA members working for Network Rail have postponed December strikes as a pay offer is being considered.
From December 13 until the end of January, TSSA members are taking part in 'action short of a strike', which could affect services in the North East, as TSSA members will refuse to cover other rail workers who may be involved in other strikes. The companies that could affect are Cross Country, LNER, Northern and Transpennine Express in the North East Elsewhere in the country it applies to East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Southeastern, Greater Anglia, Govia Thameslink, West Midlands Trains, South Western Railway and Network Rail.
January 2023 RMT train strike dates
So far, the RMT has confirmed strikes for staff working for Network Rail and the 14 train operators mentioned above. They are set to take place on Tuesday January 3, Wednesday January 4, Friday January 6 and Saturday January 7.
Other unions, including TSSA and Aslef, could yet announce their own dates.
Why are railway workers striking?
Both the RMT and TSSA say the strikes are over pay, jobs and conditions. The unions are calling for pay rises more in line with inflation, as well as assurances that jobs will be retained instead of making staff redundant. They are also fighting changes to conditions, like plans to operate driver-only trains without support staff.
Inflation stands at around 11%. The best the unions have been offered is a 5% rise for 2022 and a 4% rise for 2023.
What have the railway worker unions RMT and TSSA been offered?
The RMT has rejected an offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the 14 train companies including LNER, Northern, CrossCountry and Transpennine.
The Rail Delivery Group offered the RMT rises of 4% for 2022 and 4% for 2023. It also promised no compulsory redundancies until April 2024.
The RMT rejected the offer saying it is "conditional on RMT members accepting vast changes to working practices, huge job losses, Driver Only Operated (DOO) trains on all companies and the closure of all ticket offices."
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "We have rejected this offer as it does not meet any of our criteria for securing a settlement on long-term job security, a decent pay rise and protecting working conditions.
"The RDG and Department for Transport who sets their mandate, both knew this offer would not be acceptable to RMT members.
"If this plan was implemented, it would not only mean the loss of thousands of jobs but the use of unsafe practices such as DOO and would leave our railways chronically understaffed.
The union is demanding fresh talks with the RDG.
Network Rail's offer to the RMT a 5% rise for 2022 and a 4% for 2023. The RMT is holding a vote on that deal, which is due to end on Monday December 12. But it has recommended its members reject the offer.
The TSSA is considering an offer from Network Rail of a 5% rise for 2022 and a 4% for 2023. It rejected an offer from the Rail Delivery Group for a 4% rise in 2022 and a 4% rise in 2023 as it is below inflation, less than Network Rail's offer and "comes with strings attached which amount to signing away jobs in return for very little," the TSSA says.
It adds: "The TSSA will not agree to mass job losses across the rail industry"
Luke Chester, TSSA organising director, said: “This [Network Rail's] offer is the best we can achieve through negotiation, and it was undoubtedly improved because of the ballot results and strike action taken by our members, who we applaud.
“Our members will now have their say on this offer and we are suspending strike action.
“Our union is pleased that this offer provides job security and certainty for Network Rail staff through to 2025 and we’re proud to have achieved a pay offer which provides for the lowest paid in the company with significant underpinning to ensure that those hardest hit by the cost-of-living crisis receive proportionately the most.
“This offer shows what can be achieved when employers and unions are able to negotiate in good faith. It is significantly better than the offer put by the Rail Delivery Group, which we have rejected.
“On every issue – job security, pay and conditions – the RDG offer falls short and is shackled by Government interference. They need to look at what can be achieved when negotiations are not hindered and come back to the table with an improved offer that allows us to resolve this dispute once and for all.”
What do rail bosses say?
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “This response from the RMT to a significantly enhanced offer exposes their true priority – using the British public and Network Rail workers as pawns in a fight with the Government.
“What use is a referendum that means that strike disruption is inevitable? At best it’s the tactic the RMT played in October by calling the strikes off at the last minute and causing immense disruption to passengers and vital freight routes.
“They are playing fast and loose with people’s Christmas plans and the new strike dates announced deliberately target vital engineering work designed to improve the railway.
“A significantly improved offer is now on the table that gives Network Rail workers job security, a decent pay rise and some other substantial benefits for employees and their families.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that, despite a new and improved deal offering job security and a fair pay rise, the RMT is not only continuing with upcoming industrial action but has called more strikes over Christmas.
“It’s especially disappointing given the TSSA union has described this new and improved deal as the ‘best we can achieve through negotiation’ and called off strikes.
“The Government has played its part by facilitating a fair and decent offer but, by instructing its members to reject it, the RMT has failed to play its part and our rail network now faces more harmful disruption rather than helpful discussion.”
RMT secretary general Mick Lynch insisted he does not want strikes to go ahead before Christmas but argued his members were being forced into action by the Government not allowing train operators a proper mandate to negotiate on pay and conditions.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We regret the inconvenience that we are causing but this inconvenience is being caused by the Government who are running the playbook and the strategy for the companies and directing what’s going on.
“They’ve held back even these paltry offers to the last minute so they know it’s very difficult to deal with these offers.”
He said there is always a wind-down of trains on Christmas eve but, pressed if there will be earlier disruption because of the action, he said “yes there will be”.
“They will run up until the evening time,” he said.
“We don’t want this to happen at Christmas.
“If we don’t respond they will just assume the dispute is over and they’ve got their way so we have to respond to that. I hope the companies change their positions before the action takes place on December 13 and we can cancel the action – but I’ve been hoping for that all the summer.”
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