Members of the biggest rail workers union have voted to renew their mandate to strike during the next six months in the long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said staff across 14 train companies overwhelming backed taking more industrial action.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the result was a de-facto referendum on the pay offer that has been put to them.
“It is clear from these results that members are not prepared to accept a pay offer based on mass job cuts and major attacks on their terms and conditions,” he said.
“This sends a clear message to the employers that the huge anger amongst rail workers is very real and they need to recognise that fact, face reality and make improved proposals.
“They need to get around the table with RMT and negotiate in good faith for a better deal for rail workers.”
Unions involved in disputes have to re-ballot their members every six months to legally continue with strikes and other forms of action.
The RMT has already announced a strike against train companies on May 13, the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.
The decision came after the union rejected a pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators, including a 5% pay rise backdated to January last year and a 4% hike for 2023.
The RMT called it “dreadful” and said changes to working practices would make railways less safe and result in thousands of job losses.
While negotiations to reach a new deal were underway, last week the RMT claimed train operators “torpedoed” talks by saying they would only implement the first-year payment of 5% if the union terminated its industrial mandate.
“Stage 2 discussions which are part of the offer made by the employer would then have to begin without the union having any industrial leverage at the negotiating table,” the RMT said.
However, the RDG called the action “unnecessary” and accused the union of “senselessly targeting” the Eurovision final.