Rail Strike ‘Deal To Be Done’ To Avoid Christmas Chaos, Says Transport Secretary

Transport secretary Mark Harper has said there is a “deal to be done” to resolve the rail strikes set to hit the country over the Christmas period.

The RMT has announced eight days of 48-hour strikes in December and January.

Mick Lynch, the union’s general secretary, met with Harper on Thursday in London.

He said the meeting had been “positive” and the “bellicose rhetoric” of previous transport secretary Grant Shapps had gone.

Harper said: “There is a deal to be done, and I believe we will get there.

“I want to facilitate the RMT and the employers to reach an agreement and end the dispute for the benefit of the travelling public.”

He added: “We have common ground – we both want the dispute to end and we both want a thriving railway which delivers for passengers and workers alike.

“To achieve this, though, we need to work together, across the entire industry, to ensure our railway industry thrives.”

Over 40,000 RMT members will take strike action on December 13, 14, 16 and 17 and on January 3,4,6 and 7.

They plan to walk out over the refusal by Network Rail to make an improved offer on jobs, pay and conditions during the last two weeks of talks.

It came as picket lines were mounted outside schools, universities and Royal Mail centres today.

Tens of thousands of workers went on strike in worsening disputes over pay, jobs and conditions.

Union leaders said walkouts were being solidly supported amid a bitter war of words in the industrial unrest sweeping the country.

Dave Ward, the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), accused Royal Mail of subjecting its workers to a “psychological attack”.

Jo Grady, the general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) said members have “had enough” of falling pay, pension cuts and gig economy working conditions.

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