Is Mick Lynch going to ruin Christmas?

As the England football team were running riot against Senegal on Sunday night, the RMT union rejected a new offer from train bosses offering an 8 per cent wage increase for two years and sweeping reforms for rail workers.

Lynch, the RMT’s Assistant General Secretary, said the offer “does not meet any of our criteria for securing a settlement on long term job security, a decent pay rise and protecting working conditions.” 

Mark Harper, the transport secretary, said the rejection was “incredibly disappointing, and unfair to the public, passengers and the rail workforce who want a deal.”

Ministers are facilitating eleventh-hour talks with rail unions to avert the planned series of strikes which would guarantee transport chaos in the run-up to Christmas.

Although Lynch may be the lynchpin of strike action in the RMT, his union is in very good company.

More than 33,000 firefighters and other members of fire brigades around the UK will begin voting today on whether to strike over a pay rise offer of 5 per cent. Around four in five firefighters rejected the offer in a consultative ballot in November.

The Met Office is also set to back industrial action this week, meaning weather forecasters and supercomputer operators could walk out, along with (as The Times reports) health and safety inspectors, experts tackling Covid and bird flu, and chemical weapons scientists at Porton Down.

They would join nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who will strike on 15 and 20 December in what is set to be their biggest walkout in the NHS’s history. Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative Chairman, put his foot in it on Sunday when he suggested that striking NHS workers were playing into Vladimir Putin’s hands. It’s probably just as well he didn’t comment on Lynch.