Mick Lynch desperately congratulates RMT strikers as he faces mutiny

Fifth of RMT members refused to strike and went to work instead: Mick Lynch desperately congratulates strikers as he faces mutiny in the ranks and plunge in public support over crippling winter walkouts that are ruining Xmas

  • The general secretary of the RMT has praised strikers for their ‘enormous dignity’
  • He faces internal backlash from some members after snubbing a 9% pay offer
  • It comes as polls show a plunge in public support for the crippling walkouts 

Rail union baron Mick Lynch has desperately congratulated strikers as he comes under under mounting pressure to accept a pay deal tonight following a growing mutiny from members.

His militant RMT union today walked out for the second day of the first of several 48-hour walkouts over the festive period.

But the Mail has learnt that around a fifth (4,000) of RMT members who work for Network Rail defied the strike and turned up for work.

This is double the number that did when strikes first began in June, raising the possibility that the strikes could breakdown.

It comes as two new polls show that public support for rail strikes has dropped to 30% today from 43% in September – and strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI, from 31% in September to 36% now.

In an effort to present a united front, the RMT’s general secretary praised his members for showing ‘enormous dignity and rock-solid fortitude’, while claiming they could cost the economy £300million if they continue to strike. 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch is said to be facing mounting pressure from within the union to accept a pay deal. Pictured: Mick Lynch takes on the phone outside Euston Station on Wednesday, December 14

Around 4,000 RMT members who work for Network Rail defied the union’s call for a strike and turned up for work on Tuesday. Pictured: Passengers board an Elizabeth Line train at Slough on Wednesday morning, December 14

There are said to be internal rifts within the RMT, with some signallers said to be unhappy at the decision snub a 9% pay offer. Pictured: An RMT member pickets outside Slough station on Wednesday, December 14

The picket line was made up of four people at Kings Cross Station during the rail strikes this morning

Support for rail strikes is dropping – and strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI

In a statement he said: ‘I congratulate RMT members who have shown enormous dignity and rock-solid fortitude throughout this 48-hour strike.

‘They have shown how important their work is to the functioning of the economy and wider society.

‘All they want is a negotiated settlement on job security, a decent pay rise and good working conditions.

‘And they are determined to continue their industrial campaign until an agreed resolution is achieved.

‘Multimillion pound train companies are once again indemnified for any losses suffered through strike action.

‘If all 16 days of action go ahead, over £300m pounds will have been spent by the taxpayer to ensure they suffer no financial detriment.

‘The cost-of-living crisis is accelerating out of control and the trade union movement is stepping up to the plate across multiple industries to protect workers.

‘We send our heartfelt solidarity to the nurses and their union the RCN on their historic strike tomorrow, along with our heroic postal workers who are striking on issues very similar to our own.

Who is striking over Christmas and when is it happening?


· RMT rail workers will walk out on Dec  14, 16, 17, 24 until 27 and Jan 3, 4, 6, 7

· Walkouts expected to also impact timetable on non-strike days

· Union rejected 8% pay rise offer

NHS & Ambulance workers

· NHS workers will strike on Dec 15 and 20

· Unison, Unite and GMB will stage ambulance worker walkout on Dec 21. GMB will strike again on Dec 28

· Nurses demanding 19 per cent pay increase

Bus strikes

· 1,000 TfL workers will walkout on Dec 16, 17, 24, 27, 31 and Jan 4, 5

· The action will have biggest impact in south and west London on 59 routes

· Unite called off further action after new pay deal agreed


· Security staff will walkout on December 16, 18, 22 and 23

· RMT warned strike would ‘severely affect’ passengers

· Eurostar said it would update affected customers

Border Force

· 1,000 PCS union members will walk out from Dec 23 to 26 and Dec 28 to 31

· Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow will be hit

· Number equivalent to three in four frontline staff

‘Unity in our movement is now more vital than ever with the ramping up of attacks from the government.

‘The rich have never been richer, and millions are struggling to feed themselves or heat their homes this winter.

‘There needs to be a rebalancing of society where workers that create the wealth are rewarded properly for their endeavours and that will help create a happier and more prosperous country.’

At Kings Cross only four people turned up for the picket line on Wednesday morning as he faces growing internal opposition to his position.

It is understood that signallers in particular are furious that Mr Lynch has snubbed a 9 per cent pay offer from Network Rail after losing thousands of pounds in earnings due to the walkouts.

Union sources claimed that a majority of 6,000 signallers voted in favour of the deal when it was put to RMT members in a referendum last week.

But one source claimed that their votes were outweighed by 10,000 or so maintenance staff.

These workers are said to be more opposed to the offer due to some of the working practice reforms attached to the deal.

It highlights a growing split among RMT members, several thousand of which are urging Mr Lynch to clinch the Network Rail offer.

Some members will have lost £4,000 in pay and bonuses by the end of January.

One source said: ‘Lynch is losing signallers a shed load of money. They can earn 5 days’ pay for 2 days’ work over Christmas.

‘We’ll potentially start seeing signallers coming back to work and of course that effectively means the strikes are off in terms of the number of trains you can run.’ Around 80 per cent of trains can run when signallers defy strikes, but only about a fifth can when they join walkouts.

Monday’s RMT referendum results showed 63 per cent of Network Rail workers, on an 83 per cent turnout, wanted to continue the dispute.

It means just 52.7 per cent of workers eligible to cast ballots have backed to continue striking.

When the RMT first balloted members in May, 89 per cent voted in favour of action on a 71 per cent turnout.

It came as new polling by Ipsos found that the RMT is also losing sympathy among the public, with more people now opposing strikes than supporting them.

Of more than 1,000 adults asked by the pollster last week, 30 per cent said they supported rail walkouts with 36 per cent opposed. In September, the figures were 43 per cent and 31 per cent respectively.

Just 46 per cent said they had ‘sympathy’ for rail unions, down six points.

Tory MP Greg Smith, who sits on the Commons transport committee, said: ‘Mick Lynch and the RMT are fast becoming a busted flush.

‘He’s growingly being exposed for the political crusade he’s running, which is not in the interests of his members.’

RMT union officials pictured with general secretary Mike Lynch on a picket line earlier this year

Bleak mid-winter of strikes: When rail, bus, NHS, Border Force and postal workers will down tools this month   

Mr Lynch on the picket line outside Euston station on Tuesday, as the first wave of 48-hour strikes got under way

Chris Loder, who also sits on the committee, said: ‘Mick Lynch and others are now skating on thin ice and I think there’s a real risk that the workforce does not support them throughout the rest of the strike action they’ve got.

‘If you talk to people on the ground like I do, you’ll know they’re becoming quite weary of all this and to have all this action over Christmas, with all the pay lost with all the current issues we’re facing, that is not something the frontline staff welcome and I think there’s a real risk that the strikes breakdown.’

The RMT will start another 48-hour strike on Friday and hold two more across January 3 and 4 and January 6 and 7.

It will also strikes from 6pm on Christmas Eve until 6am on 27 December.

Unite, which represents electrical control room operators, backed a similar pay deal offered by Network Rail. The TSSA rail union has also recommended that members accept, with the results due today.

The RMT has denied the claims of growing mutiny among signallers.

It claimed that it does not have a breakdown of how different workers voted.

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