UK rail employers make wage offer in bid to avoid pre-Christmas strikes | Travel & leisure

Rail employers have made an offer to the industry’s largest union to try to resolve a long-running dispute over jobs, wages and conditions.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has announced that it has offered the RMT an 8% salary increase over two years with a guarantee of no forced redundancy until April 2024.

Thousands of RMT members across 14 rail operators and Network Rail are due to stage two 48-hour strikes later this month. The RDG said his offer would bring “vital and long overdue” changes to working arrangements.

He said a draft framework agreement gave the RMT a chance to cancel its planned industrial action and take the offer to its members. The strikes, on December 13-14 and 16-17, coupled with a ban on overtime at Christmas, would lead to a month of network disruption, the RDG said.

A spokesperson said: ‘This is a fair and affordable offer in these difficult times, providing a significant salary increase for staff. If approved by the RMT, implementation could be accelerated to ensure staff enter safely over Christmas knowing they will receive this improved salary bonus at the start of the New Year, along with a security guarantee of employment until April 2024.

“We urge RMT management to make this offer available to its members and remove the threat of a month of industrial action at Christmas which will disrupt the travel plans of millions of people and cause real hardship for businesses.”

The DGR said proposed reforms to working practices include:

  • Formalize current voluntary work arrangements in the railways to meet the growing demand for leisure travel on weekends, especially on Sundays.

  • Using part-time contracts and flexible working hours and models to encourage a more diverse workforce that can adapt to working shifts around other commitments.

  • The creation of a new “multipurpose station worker” function, with station staff trained and equipped to assume a set of responsibilities aimed at “better responding to customer needs”.

It is understood that the RMT Executive Committee will study the offer.

The RDG said it proposed the ticket buying process at stations be modernized, with ticketing staff moving from behind glass screens to other parts of the station.

It also proposes, “where not already done, a new contractual commitment for staff to work Sundays on the roster, either as part of their main working week or as an additional working day paid at the rate existing defined in the company – specific agreements”.

The group said it was also proposing to move to driver-only operation (DOO), where drivers operate the doors of all cars.

He said: “It does not mean removing staff from trains on board. It allows onboard staff to focus on other safety issues and take care of onboard customers with travel advice, ticket sales, etc. The aim would be to see this extended to more areas of the network – where appropriate technology and rolling stock allow – to improve the safety of train dispatch and provide greater resilience in times of disruption.

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