How much do rail workers earn?

·3 min read

Watch: Three-day rail strike to cause six days of disruption

Rail workers will stage a three-day strike this week, which will cause havoc for the UK's train network.

It is believed one in five trains across the network will run as RMT union members walk out on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, crippling services for most of the week.

Last-ditch talks on Monday failed to resolve the bitter dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said Network Rail had offered a 2% pay rise with the possibility of a further 1% later dependent on efficiency savings.

The strike has been deliberately timed to cause the most chaos for British holidaymakers, with some of the dates coinciding with Glastonbury.

Half of Britain's rail lines will be shut because of the strike. (PA)
Half of Britain's rail lines will be shut because of the strike. (PA)

Why are rail workers striking?

Unions argue that many of their members worked throughout the pandemic and were hailed as 'COVID heroes' but now face job cuts, changes to their working conditions and pay rises well below the rate of inflation following years of wage freezes.

The walkout relates to rail support staff – who work on the platforms and trains – rather than train drivers.

These workers are often much worse paid and have much more vulnerable jobs than drivers, who are not striking because they are represented by their own union, Aslef.

The railways are proposing to make efficiency savings, especially as fewer passengers are travelling by train because of the pandemic, which has led to more people working from home.

RMT general secretary Lynch said: "Railway workers have been treated appallingly and, despite our best efforts in negotiations, the rail industry, with the support of the government, has failed to take their concerns seriously.

"We have a cost-of-living crisis, and it is unacceptable for railway workers to either lose their jobs or face another year of a pay freeze when inflation is at 11.1% and rising."

The government has urged both sides to come to an agreement. (PA)
The government has urged both sides to come to an agreement. (PA)

Most unions are demanding a pay rise, a freeze on redundancies and no unagreed changes to their contract.

Downing Street said the dispute is between the unions and the employers and it "wouldn't be helpful" for ministers to get involved.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps accused the RMT of "punishing" millions of innocent people by going on strike.

Shapps said the travelling public faced a week of "misery" because the union had refused repeated appeals to call off their action.

How much do rail workers earn?

According to the ONS and reported by the BBC, the median salary for rail travel assistants (ie ticket collectors and guards) is £33,310; for rail construction and maintenance operatives it is £34,998; and for transport operatives (eg signallers) it is £48,750.

Though train drivers are not part of the three-day strike this week, Aslef confirmed earlier this month that they will be striking at three companies in the coming weeks:

  • On 26 June at Hull Trains

  • On 23 June at Greater Anglia

  • On 28-29 June and 13-14 July at Croydon Tramlink

Salaries for train drivers vary from company to company but most salaries start in the mid £40,000s and with the highest-paid earning £70,000. The median salary is believed to be £59,189 for train and tram drivers.

People don't need any special qualifications above GCSEs to become a train driver but they are expected to have several years of experience working on trains or within the rail network.

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