The RMT union says it has made a ‘good start’ in solving the problems that led to railway strikes after talks with the new transport secretary.
Union chief Mick Lynch said he had a “pleasant meeting” with secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan in which he explained “everything wrong with our transportation system.”
Mr Lynch argued that while he is “optimistic” after the meeting, transport workers will still need to see “a concrete change” in the industry.
The meeting comes after RMT union barons announced that 40,000 National Rail employees and 15 train operators will organize a strike on October 8.
The planned strike will “effectively shut down the rail network,” RMT said last week, noting how tens of thousands of railroad workers will move to picket lines.
Rail strikes have already been planned by Aslef union members from 12 train companies on October 1 and 5, threatening another travel chaos for passengers.
RMT union leader Mick Lynch (pictured in August) said the group has made a ‘good start’ in solving the problems that led to railway strikes after talks with the new transport secretary.
Mr Lynch, along with Mick Whelan of Aslef, spoke with Ms Trevelyan last week, just days after taking on her new role as transport secretary. They met to discuss ongoing issues plaguing the industry.
‘It was a very pleasant meeting. She allowed me to basically download everything into her that is wrong with our transportation system and the railways in particular,” said Mr Lynch. BBC.
“That’s a good start, but we need to see a concrete change… so that the companies can negotiate freely, on the basis of free collective bargaining.”
He claimed to be “more optimistic” that change will come under the leadership of Ms Trevelyan, which he did under the leadership of former transport secretary Grant Shapps, who reportedly refused to meet with union leaders.
“I’m more optimistic than I was under Grant Shapps, but that would be anyone,” he explained, adding that it was “better to have a personal dialogue than to be left out.”
Mr Lynch said he had a “pleasant meeting” with new secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan (pictured in September) where he explained “everything wrong with our transport system”.
There are currently three railway strikes planned for next month as part of an ongoing dispute over pay, jobs and benefits.
In addition to Network Rail, 15 operating companies are taking part in the demonstrations, including: Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express , Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).
The Ministry of Transport has urged union leaders to reconsider this divisive move and instead work with their employers, not against them, to agree on a new way forward.
Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng tried Friday in his ’emergency budget’ to crack down on the crippling strikes by announcing new laws to ensure that union action can only take place if talks between employers and unions ‘have really failed’.
Unions will also be forced to vote wage offers among their members.
Mr Lynch criticized the Chancellor’s plans, saying: “There are mixed messages. Maybe it’s good cop, bad cop. We have to negotiate through that.’
The meeting comes after union barons of the RMT announced that 40,000 National Rail employees and 15 train operators will organize a strike on October 8. He is pictured with protesters in June
the staged strikes affect travel to and from the conservative party conference in Birmingham, which takes place between October 2 and 5.
Runners hoping to make it to London for the London Marathon on October 2 will also be affected by the strikes as routes to and around the city will be affected.
RMT members employed by contractors cleaning Avanti West Coast trains will walk away for 24 hours Friday in a separate dispute over wages.
A planned driver’s strike on September 15 and 17 was called off as a mark of respect after the Queen’s death.
The RMT Union secretary general, Mr Lynch, said the railway workers’ strike has been “suspended” during the official mourning period as it joins “the entire nation to pay its respects”.
He added: “We extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends and the country.”
The move comes after a summer of discontent as thousands of workers in the rail, telecom, legal and postal sectors staged strikes amid disputes over pay and working conditions.
Criminal defense attorneys have gone on indefinite strike over a dispute over legal aid fees, while postal workers have also staged strikes with another 48-hour strike slated for later this month.