Rail jobs, staff issues and training

04.01.17

RMT to ballot members on Northern Rail strike action

The RMT union has announced today that it will be balloting its members working on Northern Rail whether they wish to take strike action over an “unacceptable” pay offer from Arriva Rail North.

Arriva was awarded the Northern franchise in December 2015 after it committed to the introduction of over 2,000 extra services a week as well as £400m of new carriages.

The RMT’s dispute is over a pay offer from the operator that does not meet the benchmark that the union has set elsewhere in the rail industry.

Mick Cash, RMT’s general secretary, said of the decision: “The nonsense of a privatised railway has shown its colours yet again as new Arriva Rail North franchisee Deutsche Bahn – less than a year after taking over the contract – offer our members a below the rate for the job pay deal.

“Industrial relations with the firm were already at a low and the latest pay offer shows continued contempt for the workers who run the service and make the company’s profits. Our members deserve to be paid properly for the work that they do.”

The ballot will open on 10 January and will conclude on 25 January, with the members’ decision set to be announced soon afterwards.

The union has said that it will remain open to negotiation with Arriva in the hope of avoiding the need for industrial action.

A spokesman for Northern said: “Northern has offered over 5,000 employees a guaranteed, above inflation pay rise over the next three or four years. The offer is a two percent increase in year one, followed by Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 0.1% in each of the following two or three years.

“We are disappointed to have now been notified by RMT that it intends to ballot its members following the negotiations in which the pay increase was offered.”

The RMT is at the centre of high-profile industrial action already, with the union currently battling Southern Rail alongside Aslef over the use of driver-only operated (DOO) trains.

(Image c. Nick Ansell PA Wire)

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Comments

Lee   05/01/2017 at 07:55

'offer our members a below the rate for the job pay deal' Drivers are already earning a salary far higher than any other non-university educated workers except for some business owners. These staff are routinely offered above inflation pay-rises and are being offered another one and its still not enough for them. As a commuter I have no doubt any pay settlement will be passed on to the customer - again and along with other Northern commuters, I will be expected to pay for a series of alleged improvements to my services that are still yet to materialise plus inflation busting pay-rises, again! Northern keep banging on about the improvements they are introducing, yet non have so far actually appeared on my line, in fact the service standard is slowly getting worse. Why the hell should the customer keep paying ever increasing fares to use a railway system driven by private sector and Union-orientated greed?

Jerry Alderson   07/01/2017 at 21:32

Quote: "The offer is a two percent increase in year one, followed by Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 0.1% in each of the following two or three years." Well, I for one would be delighted to have such a deal, especially that the best measure of inflation is CPI, not RPI, and CPI was only 0.6% in July 2016, so staff have been offered 1.5% above CPI this year and about 1% above CPI beyond that (RPI is generally around 1% higher than CPI). CPI is intended to reflect the increase in people's expenditure, not the increase in prices, and therefore better represents what pay rises should be. Hence an RPI-based pay increase means an improvement in living standards. Lee is completely correct in saying that "Drivers are already earning a salary far higher than any other non-university educated workers except for some business owners". In fact drivers earn more than a significant percentage of university-educated workers. Basic salary for a fully-trained driver is £50k+ for a 35-hour week. I've worked in places where 90% of my colleagues are graduates, and I can assure people that they were not averaging even close to £50k (for a job where overitme was epected ot be done without any payment). However, it's - presumably - the conductors/guards in dispute, not drivers, who are laergely represented by ASLEF, not the RMT. Their salary is more likely to be in the region of £30k to £35k, which is still higher than the national average salary (and that includes London salaries).

Elboobio   09/01/2017 at 21:12

Your comments above prove exactly why the pay offer is not enough for drivers on the Arriva Northern franchise. Yes, most train drivers in the country do earn over £50k a year, but drivers for northern earn just over £40k, the disagreement is that offering Northern drivers a lesser increase than Virgin, Cross-country etc. Drivers for northern are falling further behind these other TOC's for doing the same job, if you knew someone doing the same job as you else where was earning over £10k more than you were, I'm sure you'd want to be offered a better deal too.

Jerry Alderson   10/01/2017 at 19:27

Thanks, Elboobio. That is useufl to know - I hadn't realised that any fully trains drivers had a basic salary substantially lower than £50k. I assume they are not expecting a 25% increase in one year! Throughout my life if I've wanted more money I changed employer or went freelance. Admittedly the same options don't really exist for Northern drivers with only one or two employers without moving home.

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