What exactly are the strikers' demands. Without knowing I can't form an opinion (and feel a bit left out).
There has been no demand from the RMT about pay, it hasn't even got to that stage yet.
Network Rail gave no pay rise in 2021 and removed the annual bonus scheme which is worth up to £1500 per year. As it was during the height of covid the union didn't force the issue of a payrise and allowed talks to enter in 2022.
NR and the RMT were talking in the early part of this year and couldn't agree a deal so members were balloted for strike action. NR have compromised a little bit but the best they are offering is:
2021 - £0
2022 - 4%
2023 - 4%
However this contingent on absolutely ripping up the terms and conditions of the maintenance staff.
For example imposing 37 weeks of nights a year, (however a week of night shifts is classed as 4 or more nights in a week, so the rest of the year staff can still be made to work up to 3 night shifts). Weekend allowances dropped, for example 150% on a Sunday is pretty standard on the railway, they want to change that to 110%.
Many maintenance staff are basically being told that they'll have to work permanent nights and get 10% extra for weekends. This a safety critical job where staff have to drive to work sites and then be out on the track doing maintenance so doing that while severely fatigued is a huge risk, let alone the impact on peoples work life balance. These are just two changes of many to the staffs T's and C's, when you factor the money which will be lost from weekend allowances the 4% will barely allow staff to break even.
Also, Network Rail want to reduce track inspections by half to save on staff costs but this will eventually lead to track defects being missed and you know what will happen eventually. A number of other issues have been raised by the RMT concerning safety standards which are being compromised. I could write a couple of thousand words about the changes to the T's and C's but I haven't got time.
I've heard from people that have been in negotiations and saw notes from the meetings and Network rail veer from trying to do a deal (and then being told by the government that they can't offer it), to being outright belligerent and disruptive.
I've no doubt that this is the RMT members vs the government, the bosses at NR are just carrying out the governments dirty work.
I understand the disruption this is causing to the public but this is absolutely hammering the pay of the rmt workers. No one is winning here at the moment.
Network rail have said they need to save 100m pounds so they can offer a payrise. Yet every strike day is apparently costing 30m+ to the tax payer. We've had 8 strike days already with another 8 to come. It won't be far off costing the tax payer a billion pounds soon, it would have cost far less than this to come to a deal but unfortunately the government seem to have a blank cheque book when it comes to beating the union.
* Its not only Network rail staff involved in this dispute. Also lots of staff from train operating companies are also part of the dispute. Im not as knowledgeable about the cuts happening to those companies but I know staff are opposing the removal of station staff and guards for trains amongst other things. If you are disabled, good luck getting on a train if these changes are imposed.