Militant rail unions told to take ‘final’ pay deal and end strike chaos

Empty platforms in Paddington station in London, during a strike by train driver members of Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions. Picture date: Friday February 3, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story INDUSTRY Strikes. Photo credit should read: James Manning/PA Wire

Militant rail unions have been told the pay deal on the table is the “best and final offer” by ministers.

Rail minister Huw Merriman has thrown down an ultimatum to the RMT, telling them to ballot their members over a new pay deal.

Empty platforms in Paddington station in London this week

He urges them to put it to their members, recomending them to accept, in next 48 hours.

The union’s executive is mulling over a fresh nine per cent pay deal over two years, raising hopes the long running row could be over.

Writing in HOAR, Mr Merriman said: “This is the best and final offer possible.”

He added: “No one wins by prolonging this dispute, particularly rail workers.

“As January credit card bills land, some striking workers have lost thousands of pounds in lost pay on strike days and are missing out on the five per cent back-dated pay.

“In the meantime, the railway itself risks withering on the vine, unable to make the changes it needs to grow and losing the faith of a generation of rail passengers.”

Pleading with the RMT to accept the deal he said: “The future of the rail network is on the line.

“Put the latest offers to your members, encourage them to accept, and help us build the modern sustainable railway Britain deserves.”