The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ union has suspended all industrial action against Network Rail following a new pay offer.
Strike action was due to take place from 2am on 16 March until 01.59am on 17 March. A ban on overtime – which can be disruptive for maintenance works – had been due to follow.
Sky News understands there is to be a referendum of members on the latest Network Rail offer. Whether the executive committee will recommend members accept or reject the offer, as was done previously, is not yet known.
The RMT national executive committee said further updates would be given in the coming days.
RMT union members employed by Network Rail work in maintenance, signalling and station management.
Those workers rejected the previous offer from Network Rail. It included a 5% pay rise, backdated to January 2022 and a 4% hike for 2023 but was conditional on union members accepting conditions it viewed as unfavourable.
The RMT called that offer “dreadful”.
It said the requisite changes to working practices would have resulted in “a severe reduction in scheduled maintenance tasks, making the railways less safe, the closure of all ticket offices and thousands of jobs stripped out of the industry when the railways need more investment not less”.
Network Rail had called that proposal its “best and final” offer in a bid to end the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions that has disrupted train journeys since June.
There is, at the moment, no change in the planned strike action to be taken by RMT members against the 14 train operators represented by the Rail Delivery Group on 16, 18, 30 March and 1 April. Sky News expects an update will be made tomorrow on this dispute.
Commenting on the announcement, Network Rail chief executive, Andrew Haines said: “We are relieved for our people, passengers and freight customers that industrial action in Network Rail has now been suspended. We look forward to further information on plans for a referendum.”
Last year the number of work days lost to strike action was the highest in more than 30 years. Not since 1989 were there as many strike days.