RAILWAY workers have voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over jobs, pay and safety, meaning that – should action go ahead – passengers in Gwent and Wales should expect disruption.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Network Rail and 15 train operators backed launching a campaign of industrial action.

Of those balloted, 71 per cent took part in the vote, with 89 per cent voting in favour of strike action, and only 11 per cent voting against.

The union has now demanded urgent talks with Network Rail and train operating companies included in the ballot to find a negotiated settlement to the dispute over pay, jobs and safety.

Should these talks be rejected, or if they fall through, union leaders will then decide when to call strikes, bringing huge parts of the network to a standstill.

Following Tuesday's announcement, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today's overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union's approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies.

“Our NEC will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June, but we sincerely hope ministers will encourage the employers to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a reasonable settlement with the RMT.”

The UK Government and rail industry have criticised the move, calling it “hugely disappointing and premature”.

Transport for Wales – although not in dispute with the union – has warned passengers there would be disruption should strike action take place.

A spokesperson for Transport for Wales said: “Transport for Wales is not in dispute with rail unions. However, any industrial action as a result of the dispute between rail unions and Network Rail will mean disruption to our services, as will be unable to operate our services on Network Rail infrastructure.

“We are working hard to minimise the impact as much as possible and will provide detailed information to customers as soon as we're made aware of any potential industrial action.”

One of the 15 train operators where workers who are members of the RMT union voted to strike was at Great Western Railway (GWR) – which runs services across south west England and Wales.

GWR managing director Mark Hopwood said: “We very much welcome the opportunity to talk with the RMT to avert strike action, and we already have dates in the diary with them. 

"No-one wins with strike action, which would impact customers’ journeys and can only damage the post-covid recovery everyone at GWR has been working towards, while at the same time making it more difficult to deliver the changes we need to secure jobs and services for the future."