UK RMT rejects RDG offer to end workers' strike
The UK's National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) rejects an offer made by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) for not reaching the demands of workers regarding wages and job security.
In an attempt to end the series of strikes in the UK demanding higher wages, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), a representative of train operating companies in the negotiation with workers, has made an offer that was rejected by the trade union.
According to Mick Lynch, the head of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT), the offer made by RDG was "dreadful" and did not remotely meet workers' demands "on pay, job security or working conditions." On this account, Lynch also noted that no further meetings will be held with RDG, meaning that the strikes will continue.
"Our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes to get a negotiated settlement that meets our members' reasonable expectations on jobs, pay and working conditions," Lynch said.
After consulting with 40,000 of its members the RMT rejected the deal RDG offered, which included a minimum 9% pay increase - 5% and 4% for 2022 and 2023 respectively.
According to the union, this offer would have led to "a severe reduction in scheduled maintenance tasks making the railways less safe" and job cuts in the industry.
On the other hand, Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper called the move "a kick in the teeth for passengers." Harper also claimed that workers themselves were not given an opportunity to consider the offer, as the decision was made by RMT.
"The RMT's leaders should have had the courage to allow their own members to have the chance to vote on their own pay and conditions, rather than making that decision for them behind closed doors," Harper noted.
About half a million workers demand wage increases in UK
In the largest walkout in 12 years, about 500,000 workers in the UK went on strike on February 1st, disrupting schools and transportation as they demanded increased wages.
The strike occurred a day after the mass demonstrations in France, in which 1.27 million people took part. The two demonstrations foreshadow an incoming and possibly inevitable cost-of-living crisis.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC), the overarching labor organization in the UK, considered the protests "biggest day of strike action since 2011." The most recent groups to take action included border force personnel at UK air and seaports, as well as teachers, and train drivers.
Graham, a union representative who preferred not to disclose his last name, said "We are striking because, for the past 10 years, we had effectively had a pay cut" and explained that "some of our members, even though they are working, still have to make visits to food banks," he told AFP.
The representative further highlighted that "Not only are wages not keeping up, but things like fares, council tax, and rents are going up. Anything we get is eaten away."
In the face of this strike, Education Minister Gillian Keegan expressed disappointment with the teachers' walkout on Times Radio, as hundreds of schools were shut for the day.
General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Mark Serwotka, said the government's position was "unsustainable". He told Sky News that "it's not feasible that they can sit back with this unprecedented amount of industrial action growing, because it's half a million today."
Serwotka warned that the unions are prepared to hold extended strikes, even throughout the summer, and noted that "next week, we have paramedics, and we have nurses, there will then be the firefighters."
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