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Network Rail in last-ditch talks with unions

Rail managers and unions have begun conciliation talks in a final effort to avert the national rail strike planned for bank holiday Monday.

RTM reported last week that members of RMT are set to stage a 24-hour walkout starting at 5pm on Monday 25 May. The union is also instituting an overtime ban for 48 hours on the Monday and Tuesday.

Members who will take part in the action include signallers, maintenance staff and station workers. The strike is expected to cause widespread misery for commuters returning to work in the Tuesday morning peak.

Network Rail has pledged to do everything to "keep our railways moving" and has now returned to the negotiating table with the union for talks with Acas, the employment conciliation service.

An Acas spokesperson said this morning: "Acas talks between Network Rail and all three trade unions are expected to start at 11am."

While RMT is the only union to announce a strike so far, the TSSA has also balloted its members for a strike with the result due this week.

RMT rejected a four-year deal worth £500 per worker this year, followed by three years of increases matching inflation as well as a no compulsory redundancy commitment to December 2016.

Commenting after the announcement of the strike, Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said: “This strike is deliberately timed to cause maximum disruption to families trying to enjoy the half-term break and millions more returning to work after the bank holiday. I find it deplorable that the RMT can hold the travelling public to ransom in this way.

“This week we have been talking to Acas to try to get the RMT back around the table. The public knows only too well that our railway must improve. We want to work with the unions so that we can reward our staff through improved productivity.”

Union members voted 80% for strike action on a 60% turnout, and by 92% for action short of a strike.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the vote gave the union a “massive mandate” for action.

(Image source: Jonathan Brady/PA)

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