Extra rail strikes have been scheduled over the Christmas period

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Extra rail strikes have been scheduled over the Christmas period, the RMT union says.

Staff at Network Rail – about half the workers involved in a pay dispute – are expected to walk out from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 27 December.

A new offer was made by the company on Sunday but the union is urging members to reject it.

Network Rail accused the RMT of using passengers and workers as “pawns in a fight with the government”.

“They are playing fast and loose with people’s Christmas plans and the new strike dates announced deliberately target vital engineering work designed to improve the railway,” Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator said.

The RMT represents rail industry workers at Network Rail, who maintain the railways, as well as the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators. The union is involved in two sets of talks in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions.

Planned strike action – due to start next week and continue into January – will also go ahead, the union added.

As well as the strikes on 24 – 27 December, industrial action at 14 train companies across four 48-hour periods will take place on:

13-14 December
16-17 December
3-4 January
6-7 January
Passengers had already been warned to plan their travel well in advance over Christmas, with some 5% of the rail network shut for engineering works – although many trains do not run over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The RMT union is putting a new offer from Network Rail to its members in an electronic referendum, which will close in a week’s time. But they are being urged to reject the offer, which its general secretary Mick Lynch said was “not acceptable”.

Network Rail had said the latest offer was its “best and final”. It includes:

A 5% pay rise this year and 4% next year
No compulsory redundancies for workers who are not managers and controllers until 31 January 2025
A 75% discount on leisure travel for staff and their family members
The inflation rate, which measures how prices change over time, increased to 11.1% in October.