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Rail strikes resume as government blocks settlement

27 November 2022

Aslef pickets in good heart at Euston, London. Photo Workers.

Striking train drivers in 11 passenger rail companies brought most of England’s rail services to a standstill again on Saturday 26 November 2022.

Their union, Aslef, was the first to resume strikes after industrial action by all rail unions was paused for a month to allow for “intensive negotiations”. 

The RMT has announced further 48-hour strikes by 40,000 members in 14 rail companies and Network Rail on 13/14 and 16/17 December, and 3/4 and 6/7 January. It will also operate an overtime ban from 18 December until 2 January.

Agreement scuppered

The union announced the action after the government torpedoed a deal to settle the disputes. According to an article in the Daily Telegraph, ministers pulled the plugs on a deal with rail employers at the last minute. 

The newspaper reported that given the many other public sector union pay claims and disputes, the Treasury got cold feet, concerned about a rail deal setting the “going rate” for the others.

The rail unions have pointed to agreements it has concluded in rail companies not under the control of the Department for Transport – in Scotland, Wales and Merseyside – as evidence that the other rail disputes could also be settled given the will on the part of employers and government.

The RMT’s recent win in ScotRail means pay rises between 7 and 9 per cent backdated to April 2022, a no compulsory redundancy agreement for six years, and other benefits.


Its announcement of further industrial action comes straight after RMT members were forced by anti-trade union laws to renew the mandate for strikes six months from the original vote. They did so by thumping majorities – turnout was 70.2 per cent with 91.7 per cent of those voting “yes”.

The TSSA union, which mainly represents administrative rail staff, is also balloting its Network Rail members again to renew its strike mandate. But the union has so far remained in negotiations with the employers and has not set any further strike dates.