UPDATE: Last-ditch UK rail talks unable to stave off looming strikes

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The UK rail strikes are to go ahead after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime & Transport union at Network Rail and 13 train operators will walk out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the biggest outbreak of industrial action on the railways for a generation.

Services across the UK will start to be affected from Monday evening, with just one in five trains running on strike days, primarily on main lines and only for around 11 hours.

Talks were held into Monday afternoon but the sides remain deadlocked over a deal.

London Underground workers are also on strike on Tuesday.

The RMT said the train operators have now made an offer and there is no further offer from Network Rail following one which was rejected last Friday.

General secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The RMT National Executive Committee has now found both sets of proposals to be unacceptable and it is now confirmed that the strike action scheduled this week will go ahead.

‘It is clear that the Tory government, after slashing £4 billion of funding from National Rail and Transport for London, has now actively prevented a settlement to this dispute.

‘The rail companies have now proposed pay rates that are massively under the relevant rates of inflation, coming on top of the pay freezes of the past few years.

‘At the behest of the government, companies are also seeking to implement thousands of job cuts and have failed to give any guarantee against compulsory redundancies.’

The RMT said rail companies were ‘attacking’ the Railway Pension Scheme and the Transport for London scheme, diluting benefits, making staff work longer and making them poorer in retirement, while having to pay increased contributions.

The union said thousands of jobs were being cut across the rail network with no guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

Officials also claimed working practices were being changed and disputes over the role and responsibility of the guard were being restarted.

Ticket office closures were also being planned, said the RMT.

Lynch added: ‘Faced with such an aggressive agenda of cuts to jobs, conditions, pay and pensions, RMT has no choice but to defend our members industrially to stop this race to the bottom.

‘The strikes on Network Rail, the train operators and London Underground will go ahead, and we again call on our members to stand firm, support the action, mount the pickets and demonstrate their willingness to fight for workplace justice.

‘The RMT supports the campaign for a square deal for all working people in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, and our current campaign is a part of that more general campaign which means that public services have to be properly funded and all workers properly paid with good conditions.’

By Alan Jones, PA Industrial Correspondent

source: PA

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