Mick Lynch brands rail dispute the 'fight of our lifetime' as train drivers on £71,000 a year vote on industrial action

The RMT boss deemed current negotiations as the 'toughest' he'd been involved in

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Boss of the rail union RMT, Mick Lynch, has described the current dispute suffocating the rail industry as the "fight of our lifetime".

Strikes are set to plague summer plans, with train drivers earning up to £71,000 a year voting on industrial action.

Mick Lynch, who rakes in £124,000 a year, expressed concern over recent negotiation over pay, jobs and conditions, deeming them the "toughest" the union had ever been involved in.

The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch

The news follows an announcement from Mike Whelan, the head of the train drives' union Aslef, threatened commuters with "massive" disruptions over the next few months, after his members voted for their first national strike since 1995.

Mass walkouts by train drivers would plunge the UK travel network into disarray, with commuters set to face a "summer of discontent" if the wave of walkouts goes ahead.

The move is set to spark anger amongst travellers, given the average train driver salary is £59,000 rising to £71,000 for drivers on LNER's East Coast trains. The average salary in the UK is £25,971.

The ballot of Aslef members is set to be announced next week
The ballot of Aslef members is set to be announced next week

Aslef conducted a ballot on industrial action which coincided with a vote by the TSSA union which represents workers in stations and ticket offices.

Votes from both unions fell in the wake of the recent rail strikes from RMT, which plunged the country into complete chaos.

Train services were crippled following a walkout from RMT members, who hinted toward further action if talks with the union, Network Rail and the train operators fail.

Mr Lynch told the RMT's annual meeting in Birmingham yesterday: "We went to the train operators, and they put on the table that virtually every rail worker would be re-contracted on a new contract of employment and a new set of terms and conditions.

"And they are going to bring back the driver only operated disputes in every single train operating company. They have told me that face to face. They said it was their mandate from the Department for Transport.

"So, this is as serious as it gets. It is the fight of our lifetime and of our generation."

Criticising those who label workers responsible for the cost-of-living crisis in Britain, the RMT boss argued that the increased wage demands from trade union were not causing inflation.

He added: "It is a myth put round by the establishment that workers' wages are the cause of inflation. It is the profit making and protecting the wealth of the super-rich that is responsible for inflation.

"We have not got a wage price spiral - wages are lagging a long way behind prices and it is the job of the trade unions to ensure wages catch up."

Strike action was sparked following unrest amongst union members, in relation to crippling inflation rates, with worker's struggling to make ends meet.

Aslef is balloting drivers at 10 train companies across the country, with the first results expected next week.

Workers at three companies already voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, with Aslef General Secretary, Mick Whelan, stating action would be "far more distruptive than it has been in the past" in an interview with the Financial Times.