Train strikes have become a common occurrence over the last year, as disputes continue over wages and planned changes to working conditions.
Recent strikes involving the ASLEF and RMT unions in May and June have fallen around big events in the UK, from Eurovision to the FA Cup final, causing travel disruption for thousands making their way to Liverpool and London.
There have already been three strikes in June alone, with a total of eight strikes already having taken place in 2023.
While there are no further strikes currently planned, many people are left wondering if there could well be even more strikes on the way in 2023.
So, let’s take a look at the likelihood and what the unions have said on the matter…
Could there be more rail strikes in 2023?
The short answer – yes, it is highly likely that more strikes will be announced this year unless a breakthrough happens in negotiations.
Unions have to give at least two weeks’ notice before going on strike, so that is the latest unions can leave it when it comes to announcing further walkouts.
Currently, there looks to be no end in sight when it comes to rail strikes, with communication between the government and unions coming to a standstill.
What has the RMT union said?
Back in May, members of the RMT union – the biggest rail workers’ union in the country – voted to renew their mandate to continue taking industrial action for the next six months in the long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
Over 90% of votes cast backed continuing with strike action, the RMT said.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the overwhelming backing for further strike action across 14 train operating companies was a ‘de-facto referendum’ on the dispute.
‘It is clear from these results that members are not prepared to accept a pay offer based on mass job cuts and major attacks on their terms and conditions.
‘This sends a clear message to the employers that the huge anger amongst rail workers is very real and they need to recognise that fact, face reality and make improved proposals.
‘They need to get around the table with RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers.’
In a statement ahead of the strikes in June, Mr Lynch spoke more of his frustrations with the ongoing discussions between the government and the Rail Delivery Group, who represent train operators in the continued wage discussions.
He said: ‘The government is once again not allowing the Rail Delivery Group to make an improved offer that we can consider.
‘Therefore, we have to pursue our industrial campaign to win a negotiated settlement on jobs, pay and conditions.
‘Ministers cannot just wish this dispute away. They underestimate the strength of feeling our members who have just given us a new six-month strike mandate, continue to support the campaign and the action and are determined to see this through until we get an acceptable resolution.
‘The government now needs to unlock the RDG and allow them to make an offer that can be put to a referendum of our members.’
What has the ASLEF union said?
The ASELF general secretary has expressed that rail strikes could drag on for the next five years.
Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan stressed the union is ‘determined to get a resolution’ and there is ‘no waning in enthusiasm’ from members more strikes.
‘We would like a resolution tomorrow, we do not want to be on strike,’ he told Sky News.
‘We are in this if it takes us four years, five years, whatever it is, to get a resolution to this, we will do what it takes to get to that resolution.
‘We have gone four years without a pay rise, as have many other sectors and many other workers.
‘But to stop now after four years, what will happen, we will not get a pay rise next year, the year after, the year after that.’
Speaking to ongoing negotiations in a letter to members ahead of the strikes earlier this month Mr Whelan wrote: ‘Progress has been slow but we believe there will be an offer shortly. In the event of it not being realistic, or substantial enough, we may need to take further and possibly prolonged industrial action.’
So, until the unions and the government can come to an agreement, it looks as though strikes will continue to be a part of our daily lives for some time to come.
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First appear at Could there be more rail strikes in 2023? What train unions have said