LONDON (Reuters) - British rail workers will stage two national strikes next month, the RMT union said on Thursday, just a week after it suspended a stoppage that would have crippled large swathes of the network.
The union said its members would now stage a 24-hour walkout from 1600 GMT on June 4, with a 48-hour stoppage starting on June 9 in a dispute with track operator Network Rail over pay and conditions.
“Our representatives have today rejected the pay package offered by Network Rail and in the absence of any further movement from the company, that has left us with no option but to move to a rolling programme of industrial action,” said RMT General Secretary Mick Cash.
Earlier this month, the union said 80 percent of its 16,000 members working for Network Rail, which maintains Britain’s railway infrastructure including track and signalling, had backed strike action in a ballot.
Network Rail has warned that any strike would severely hit train services nationwide and said it was “deplorable” that the union was holding passengers to ransom.
The union had said it was opposed to a one-off non-consolidated payment of 500 pounds ($760) for staff this year and was concerned that Network Rail was only promising to make no compulsory redundancies for the next two years.
The stoppages will pose a early challenge to the new Conservative government which has promised to make it harder for those working in essential public services to stage walk-outs.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison