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The fight for rail continues [updated]

27 February 2023

RMT picket outside Manchester Piccadilly station, 16 December 2022. Photo Workers.

Rail workers are now entering the next phase of a long campaign to defend their terms and conditions and their industry from vicious government attacks.

RMT will begin a new round of strike action across Britain on 16 March. Its Network Rail members will strike that day, and RMT maintenance staff will refuse to work overtime, rest days and voluntary Sundays for three separate weeks up to the end of April.


RMT operations members, including vital signallers, will also refuse to work overtime, rest days and voluntary Sundays for three separate weeks ­ different to maintenance workers, increasing the spread of action and its effects.

Members in 14 train operators will strike on both 16 and 18 March, and again on 30 March and 1 April. This will severely disrupt train services over three days on each occasion.

Drivers’ union Aslef held strikes on 1 and 3 February and  is likely to announce further strikes shortly. In most passenger train companies no trains ran at all on Aslef drivers’ strike days.

‘Unions have firmly rejected the government’s “best and final offers”.’

Both unions have firmly rejected the government’s “best and final offers”. These offers, if accepted, would have seen a pay increase nowhere near the rate of inflation in return for a drastic worsening of hard-won terms and conditions of employment for many staff.

Rejection of the offers comes on the back of thumping majorities in favour of strike action in recent RMT and Aslef ballots. These were held because the law requires a fresh ballot if six months has elapsed since the last one.

The much smaller TSSA union accepted offers for its Network Rail members, and has now accepted the offer made for its members in train operating companies. In the ballot covering grades other than managers, around 34 per cent voted in favour of the offer with 23 per cent against, and 43 per cent didn’t vote at all!


The leadership vacuum created following turmoil in TSSA and the departure of many of its senior figures has contributed greatly to the poor ballot result.

Amongst rail staff where both TSSA and RMT organise, the ballot result coupled with unpopular and underhand moves towards a merger with GMB, large numbers are deserting TSSA for RMT so as to remain in the fight.

Update – On 8 March RMT announced a referendum on a new and improved offer from Network Rail. The new offer includes extra money and is not conditional on accepting Network Rail’s modernising maintenance agenda which RMT does not endorse. There’s also a conditional offer of talks in the dispute with the train operating companies.