Rail union leaders have held back from announcing strike dates while discussions continue.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union voted overwhelmingly last week to take industrial action over jobs, pay and conditions, threatening the biggest disruption to services since the industry was privatised.
However, RMT leaders decided on Tuesday not to press ahead with strike dates after it was revealed that talks have been taking place since the ballot result.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Since the ballot results on 24th May, discussions have been taking place at industry-wide level under the auspices of the Rail Industry Recovery Group (RIRG) to create a framework and structure for negotiations on all issues in the dispute.
“RMT has today agreed to continue these discussions in order to create a framework for negotiations on all aspects of the dispute.
“The matter will be considered again by the RMT NEC (executive) on June 7 when we will consider how to develop our campaign, including the issue of setting dates for phases of industrial action.
“Our participation in the proposed discussions does not mean RMT has reached agreement with any of the train operating companies, Network Rail or with the Government’s current proposals.
“The union has the same position as it always has – to seek job security with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies; that any changes to structures, working practices, or conditions have to be agreed with our union, not imposed; and that our members deserve a negotiated pay increase that addresses the rising cost of living.
“RMT will continue to make active preparations for a sustained campaign of industrial action while discussions continue.”
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We welcome today’s announcement from the RMT and look forward to more talks over the next few days. We hope that with common sense and a willingness to compromise on both sides, we can find a solution and avoid damaging strike action.”
A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “We welcome the RMT leadership’s decision to agree to our request to engage in meaningful discussions and hope they will lead to the union removing the uncertainty of strikes for our passengers and our colleagues.
“We ask the unions to work with us to realistically address the serious financial challenges our industry faces post-Covid, and make the changes we need to secure the future of the industry and deliver a fair pay deal for our people.”