Mick Lynch has been forced to reject a pay deal that would have ended the rail strikes following a backlash from union members plotting to bring down capitalism.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) general secretary turned down a wage increase of 9pc on Friday, despite his own deputies helping to draft the agreement attached to it.
Mr Lynch said: “Our members cannot accept the ripping up of their terms and conditions.”
The refusal to even put the offer to a ballot of the RMT’s 40,000 members has now left Government and industry sources questioning whether Mr Lynch has lost control of the union and is only “leader of the RMT in name”.
A Whitehall source said: “His statement today reads like a hostage note. It’s probably a matter of time before he goes.”
An internal memo, seen by The Telegraph, reveals the pressure Mr Lynch is under from roughly 450 branch leaders.
The activists order Mr Lynch to do more to hasten “the suppression of the capitalist system by a socialistic order of society”.
They also call for rail strikes every Saturday to advance their agenda, and demand Mr Lynch increase members’ fees to establish a war chest to pay strikers.
The RMT’s national executive committee will meet on Feb 15 to consider announcing fresh strike dates. Mr Lynch has also committed to discuss the setting up of a strike fund.
Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, said: “The RMT’s rejection of these best and final offers is a kick in the teeth for passengers across the country and the RMT’s own members, who having been ordered to take strike action are now being blocked from having a say on their own future.
“The RMT’s leaders should have had the courage to allow their own members to have the chance to vote on their own pay and conditions, rather than making that decision for them behind closed doors.
“It is time for those union leaders to face the reality – our railways are currently not financially sustainable, reform is essential. I have played my part. I met union leaders. The Rail Minister and I facilitated regular meetings between all parties. We guaranteed fair and reasonable offers on pay and reform. It is now clear that no realistic offer is ever going to be good enough for the RMT leadership.”
In leaked feedback from branch leaders, Mr Lynch is told: “We believe that these offers do nothing to offer our members job security and are simply an attack on terms and conditions, attacking everything from our members roles, their work life balance to their ability to have a safe and proper break, all attached to a pay cut.”
East Midlands Central refers to changes to working practices as a “bonfire of TOC [train operator company] members’ terms and conditions”.
It calls for “strikes on every Saturday for the duration of the dispute apart from May. [And] a continuous three-day strike starting on the first Monday of May”.
The Newcastle branch says: “Having consulted the union’s rule book… [it] stipulates the following – to work for the suppression of the capitalist system by a socialistic order of society and to improve the conditions and protect the interests of its members.
“It is evident from our perspective that we have failed in our pursuit to deliver these key objectives, demands and principles and as such, Newcastle rail and catering branch reaffirms its opening statement in that we reject these proposals outright and continue with an industrial strategy until such a time as we prevail.”
The RMT’s decision to reject what Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, referred to as a “best and final” offer will come as a hammer blow to beleaguered commuters, who have suffered from the worst wave of industrial action for a generation.
In January it appeared that both sides were nearing a deal as both sides agreed to a statement that “we are working jointly towards a revised offer”.
RMT negotiators went through the conditions attached to the on a “line by line basis”, according to one source.
And the RMT’s approach contrasts with that of the TSSA, which on Friday said thousands of its members would be able to vote on a near-identical pay deal.
A senior rail source said: “This is a union which makes much of its democratic credentials. Yet after weeks of dithering and delay, fewer than five hundred activists and officials have rejected an offer on behalf of tens of thousands of ordinary members, who were denied a say.
“That is in stark contrast to the TSSA. They are making sure their members get a say on the offer we made. That’s what a democratic organisation does.
“It’s time to get real, the railway is on the brink. Since the strikes began staff have burnt through thousands in lost pay and the best part of half a billion pounds has vanished in revenue, we simply can not continue on as we are. So far only the TSSA appears to get it.”
The RMT declined to announce further strike dates and said it would seek further talks to work towards a negotiated settlement.
Mr Lynch added: “We have carried out an extensive listening exercise and our members have spoken.
“If our union did accept these offers, we would see a severe reduction in scheduled maintenance tasks, making the railways less safe, the closure of all ticket offices and thousands of jobs stripped out of the industry when the railways need more investment not less.
“Our industrial campaign will continue for as long as it takes to get a negotiated settlement that meets our members’ reasonable expectations on jobs, pay and working conditions.”
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