Train passengers face further disruption this summer after members of the RMT rail union voted overwhelmingly for further strike action.
A ballot of members working across 14 train operating companies “massively reaffirmed a mandate for further strike action”, the union said on Thursday, with 90% of votes cast in favour of holding more strikes over the next six months.
The union’s leader, Mick Lynch, described the result as a “de facto referendum” on the dispute with an average turnout of nearly 70% in each company.
“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,” Lynch said.
“This sends a clear message to the employers that the huge anger among 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.”
Unions involved in disputes have to reballot their members every six months to legally continue with industrial action.
The next 24-hour strike is planned for Saturday 13 May, the day of the Eurovision song contest final.
It follows the breakdown of talks last month. At the time, Lynch said the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) had been “pressured” by the government to renege on a 9% offer the union had been considering for several weeks, by making the first year’s pay deal contingent on withdrawing its mandate for strike action.
“The RDG is now saying they would only implement the first-year payment of 5% if the union terminated its industrial mandate – meaning no further strike action could take place,” Lynch said.
Earlier this week, the transport secretary, Mark Harper, criticised rail unions over the 13 May strike.
Harper said rail workers should work “in solidarity” with Ukrainian railway staff who have been killed, instead of “cynically targeting” Eurovision, which was won by Ukraine last year.
The train drivers’ union Aslef is also planning to strike, on 12 May. It recently rejected a pay offer of 4% a year for two years, describing the proposal as risible given that inflation is at 10%.
Further drivers’ strikes will be held on 31 May and 3 June, the day of the FA Cup final, when many fans will be travelling from north-west England to London to see two Manchester teams play at Wembley.