Rail unions threaten to continue striking until Christmas

Economists have warned that the strikes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday could knock 0.3 to 0.4 per cent off gross domestic product for June, with up to one in 20 people unable to go to work.

Other public sector unions are threatening to follow the rail workers and take industrial action, with teachers preparing to ballot for strike action if they do not receive a pay settlement close to inflation.

It is understood that the RMT’s national executive will begin plotting the next round of rail strikes at the end of the week.

An union source said: “We have a mandate for strike action for six months. The National Executive Committee will decide what to do next. They will only meet after this week and then need to give the employers two weeks’ notice.”

The RMT can call strikes with only a fortnight’s notice up until the end of November, six months after the ballot results were returned at the end of May. Further industrial action after that would require a fresh vote.

The two sides in the rail dispute remained poles apart on Sunday, with further talks due to take place on Monday. The Telegraph has learned that Network Rail offered an initial two per cent pay rise and a demand for job cuts, while Mick Lynch, the RMT’s general secretary, revealed for the first time that he was demanding pay rises of at least seven per cent.

Asked if passengers should expect a “long fight”, Mr Lynch told the i newspaper: “That may have to be the way that is, I hope that’s not the case, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence at the moment that it’s going to go any other way.”

Network Rail said the company was now digging in for “a battle of attrition” that had echoes of the miners’ strike of the mid-1980s. 

A Network Rail source said: “It is very unlikely these strikes will be a one-off. The RMT will meet after the strikes and decide what comes next and we assume there will be more disruption and more strike days. Then that moves the dispute into a battle of attrition.

“We are looking at paying RMT signallers extra money to break the strike. Nothing has been decided but there have been discussions about doing that.”



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