Mick Lynch has insisted he does not want rail strikes to happen at Christmas despite fresh industrial action announced yesterday. The RMT general secretary made the comments during an appearance on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Mr Lynch said: “We don’t want this to happen at Christmas.
“If we don’t respond they will just assume the dispute is over and they’ve got their way so we have to respond to that.
“I hope the companies change their positions before the action takes place on December 13 and we can cancel the action – but I’ve been hoping for that all the summer.”
Mr Lynch confirmed there will be greater disruption on the rails on Christmas Eve because of an extra walkout from 6pm until 6am on December 27 on top of two 48-hour strikes next week.
But he argued that his members were being forced into action by the Government not allowing train operators a proper mandate to negotiate on pay and conditions.
He said: “We regret the inconvenience that we are causing but this inconvenience is being caused by the Government who are running the playbook and the strategy for the companies and directing what’s going on.
“They’ve held back even these paltry offers to the last minute so they know it’s very difficult to deal with these offers.”
But schools minister Nick Gibb urged the RMT not to “hold the country to ransom” as they prepare to down tools over the festive period.
He told GB News: “It’s a very disappointing decision by the RMT, they were offered a very good pay deal by the employers, 8% over two years, which is in line with the kind of pay deals that are taking place outside the public sector.
“So, I think the unions really should call off this strike. It’s inconveniencing people up and down the country in the run-up to Christmas, I think it’s a very poor way of conducting negotiations.
“We would urge the unions to talk to employers, to keep negotiating and not to hold the country to ransom, particularly in December as we get nearer to Christmas.”
It comes as Network Rail workers are due to stage an extra strike over Christmas in the ongoing dispute.
Members of the RMT will go ahead with two 48-hour strikes next week and are now set to walk out from 6pm on December 24 until 6am on December 27.
Strikes are set to hit 14 train companies next week as the RMT has recommended its members should reject the latest offer from Network Rail.
However talks aimed at halting the industrial action will be held with the Rail Delivery Group today.