Two strikes signal summer of chaos for rail commuters

Railway signal workers are to strike, threatening chaos for commuters across the national rail network, after a fresh round of pay talks ended without agreement.

The RMT union said thousands of signal workers would walk out for 24 hours from noon on Friday 21 July. A further 48-hour stoppage would start at noon on Thursday 27 July, it said.

Network Rail said it had worked hard to avert industrial action over a 21-month pay deal at the centre of the dispute.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the union remained available to resolve the issue, but could not understand Network Rail’s refusal to consider a union request of a one-year deal.

“Network Rail has just agreed a one-year deal for more than 15,000 infrastructure workers but is refusing to give 5,000 signallers the same – that does not make sense,” he said.

“The company is fixated with a 21-month deal, but all it has to do is apply the figures in the offer relating to the first year and it will be acceptable to the union.”

John Armitt, Network Rail’s chief executive, said it urged the RMT to take the offer as it was the “end of the line for negotiations”.

The company said it was unable to meet the union’s demand for a further substantial increase on top of the £2,500-per-employee rise already on offer.

Two planned strikes in June were called off so the union could consult members on the new pay offer.

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