Labour Market

The RMT’s Christmas chaos threatens the future of British rail


Housing and Planning

Kristian Niemietz quoted in The Independent

In the Media

Prof. Len Shackleton writes for CapX

Commenting on the RMT’s announcement of a series of Christmas strikes, Professor Len Shackleton, Editorial and Research Fellow at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“It is depressing to read of yet further strikes planned by RMT in its long-running disputes with Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies – although really these battles are directed at the government, which is the paymaster. Although much-depleted, all passenger revenue now goes direct to the Treasury, which in current financial circumstances is not willing to finance large pay claims for comparatively well-paid railway workers who were generously protected during the Covid lockdown.  

“The union leadership seems inclined to continue strike action well into next year and it seems unlikely that the government is willing to budge.

“The disputes are not just inflicting short-term misery on rail users, but are surely damaging the industry’s long-term prospects – which means job cuts further down the line. Sooner or later union members are going to get worried about this. They will also be worried by the continuing costs in terms of pay lost during strikes. Assuming their employers have made appropriate deductions for strike days, I calculate that RMT members will have lost about 5 per cent of their pay this year, a sizeable chunk when set against the likely gains from any marginally enhanced settlement.

“It may be that continuing loss of pay and fear for jobs will begin to erode support for further strike action in the New Year. Christmas rail chaos may be the RMT’s last hurrah.”


Notes to editors

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‘Summertime Blues: Unions, strikes and the law in 2022’, by Professor Len Shackleton

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