Rail unions were urged yesterday not to ‘hold the country to ransom’ as Britain braced itself for festive strikes.
The call came from ministers – although Rishi Sunak’s cabinet met without discussing the looming wave of walkouts and industrial action.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch insisted unions had a duty to resist ‘a generalised attack on working people’ as he defended the latest strikes added over Christmas.
But Downing Street urged him to accept a deal which includes a four per cent pay rise to follow this year’s five per cent and no compulsory redundancies until 2025.
According to No.10, the cabinet meeting concentrated on the Online Safety Bill and crime.
But Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: ‘It’s incredibly disappointing that the RMT has chosen to take further damaging action instead of recognising this is a generous and fair deal.’ Speaking to GB News, schools minister Nick Gibb urged unions to ‘keep negotiating’ and ‘not hold the country to ransom’.
And Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, warned the action would be ‘hugely damaging’ to the sector.
But Mr Lynch told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘We regret the inconvenience we are causing but it is being caused by the government who are directing what’s going on.
‘They’ve held back even these paltry offers to the last minute, so it’s very difficult to deal with.’
Mr Lynch said last night he hoped for further talks today with the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms.
On Monday night, the RMT announced further strike action at Network Rail and train firms from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on December 27. This is on top of 48-hour walkouts next Tuesday and Wednesday and on December 16-17, January 3-4 and January 6-7.
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