RMT ponders ‘best and final offer’ from RDG

The RMT union is considering a pay and conditions offer from the Rail Delivery Group made on 19 January. One of the most contentious elements – national imposition of Driver Only Operation – has been withdrawn from the proposals, although individual operators could still pursue it separately.

A guarantee of no compulsory redundancies before 31 December 2024 has been tabled, along with a 5% or £1,750 pay increase (whichever is greater) effective from 2022, with a 4% pay rise in 2023. A voluntary severance scheme will see around 800 jobs cut in addition to another 800 lost under a previous round of redundancies.

Under the offer, all station ticket offices in England will be closed or ‘repurposed’ – subject to a statutory public consultation process. The RMT says it does not support this.

A new multi-skilled station grade will be created with a new starters having a different salary structure. A Sunday Commitment Protocol is proposed which would make Sunday working mandatory when rostered if cover cannot be provided. All catering services are to be reviewed on the basis of affordability and value for the companies, while there is proposed but unspecified implementation of new technology and processes in Fleet Engineering. New practices and technology will also be introduced for training and briefing.

A series of proposals on contractual terms and entitlements is being made including flexible working for new starters, new technology and equipment to be adopted without additional payment, and the creation of station groups where staff cover a cluster of stations rather than a single home station.

Annual leave entitlements would mean staff have to have Christmas Day and Boxing Day deducted from general entitlement, and a review of former BR Conditions of Service will take place. There are also proposals covering sick pay and company health appointments.

The RDG says industrial action has cost the railway around £480 million in lost ticket revenue since June 2022. Its chair, Steve Montgomery, said: ‘This is a fair offer that gives RMT members a significant uplift over the next two years - weighted particularly for those on lower incomes who we know are most feeling the squeeze – while allowing the railway to innovate and adapt to new travel patterns. It also means we can offer our people more varied, rewarding careers.’

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The National Executive Committee will be considering this matter and has made no decision on the proposals nor any of the elements within them. We will give an update on our next steps in due course.’