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Why strikes are still set to affect train services despite RMT accepting pay deal

Members of the biggest rail workers' union have voted overwhelmingly to end their strike – but that doesn't mean the end to disruption for West Midland travellers.

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RMT leader Mick Lynch on a picket line

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, representing general rail workers, have accepted a deal to end their long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Our members have spoken in huge numbers to accept this offer and I want to congratulate them on their steadfastness in this long industrial campaign."

But strikes are continuing organised by train drivers' union Aslef, which will most see services cancelled on Friday.

Members of Aslef will start a week-long overtime ban on Friday and will stage a series of strikes next week in their dispute over pay.

Drivers at Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains will walk out on Sunday as part of rolling national action and CrossCountry trains will be hit on Thursday December 7.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the RMT resolution was "welcome news for passengers and a significant step towards resolving industrial disputes on the railway, giving workers a pay rise before Christmas and a pathway to delivering long overdue reforms".

But he added: "It remains the case that the train drivers' union Aslef continue to block their members from having a say on the offer that would take train drivers' median salaries from £60,000 to £65,000 for a 35-hour, four-day week.

"Aslef should follow the RMT's lead and give their members a say."

The RMT announced a so-called memorandum of understanding last month with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) which set out a way forward and paved the way for the ballot of union members.

It is understood to include a backdated pay rise of five per cent for last year and job security guarantees such as no compulsory redundancies until the end of 2024.

The scrapping of plans to close railway ticket offices also helped break the deadlock.

A spokesman for the RDG said: "This welcome vote from RMT members will unlock a pay rise for our people, and means that fair agreements have now been reached with three out of the four unions involved in the recent industrial dispute.

"Unfortunately, the Aslef leadership's decision to call further industrial action means passengers still face disruption between 1-9 December, despite an offer remaining on the table which would see basic driver salaries increase from £60k to £65k for a four-day week.

"We want to reach a fair agreement which will get more trains running on time and put the railway on a sustainable footing, at a time when taxpayers are contributing an extra £54 million a week to keep services running post Covid.

"Instead of staging more damaging industrial action, we call on Aslef to work with us to resolve this dispute for the long-term good of everyone who works in rail and the millions of businesses and passengers who rely on it every day."