There will be no national rail strike before next Tuesday (June 7), with discussions between trade unions and rail operators now under way, the RMT union has confirmed.

A strike ballot of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers saw 89 per cent of members vote in favour of a strike and 11 per cent against on May 24, with walkouts expected across Network Rail and 13 train operating companies including South Western Railway from mid-June.

It was, according to the RMT, “the biggest endorsement for industrial action by railway workers since privatisation”, with union members endorsing calls for a “decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies”.

Responding, the Department for Transport hit out at the union, saying it was “hugely disappointing and premature that the RMT is calling for industrial action before even entering discussions”.

But in an update on Tuesday afternoon, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Since the ballot results on May 24, discussions have been taking place at industry-wide level under the auspices of the Rail Industry Recovery Group (RIRG) to create a framework and structure for negotiations on all issues in the dispute.

“RMT has today agreed to continue these discussions in order to create a framework for negotiations on all aspects of the dispute.

“The matter will be considered again by the RMT NEC on Tuesday, June 7, when we will consider how to develop our campaign including the issue of setting dates for phases of industrial action.

“Our participation in the proposed discussions does not mean RMT has reached agreement with any of the train operating companies, Network Rail or with the Government’s current proposals.

“The union has the same position as it always has – to seek job security with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies; that any changes to structures, working practices, or conditions have to be agreed with our union, not imposed; and that our members deserve a negotiated pay increase that addresses the rising cost of living.

“RMT will continue to make active preparations for a sustained campaign of industrial action while discussions continue.”