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Unions urges Network Rail workers to reject pay offer

Britain could see its first national rail strike in a generation if rail workers reject the pay deal being put forward by Network Rail, with the RMT union “strongly recommending members vote NO”.

RMT confirmed today that it will shortly begin sending referendum ballot papers to Network Rail members in Operations, Maintenance, Customer Services and associated grades over what the company says is its final pay offer.

Details provided by the union say the deal includes:

  • A 0% increase in pay for 2015.
  • An RPI level of inflation increase in pay would be applied for 2016, 2017 and 2018.  
  • The ‘No Compulsory Redundancy’ commitment to be extended until 31 December 2015. 
  • Network Rail to provide an annual National Rail Card giving a 33% reduction in off peak travel for employees, their friends and family. 

RMT will ballot 17,000 RMT members in all areas of Network Rail and is urging them to reject the proposals. If the members do so the union said it will automatically be placed in dispute with Network Rail and the workforce will then be balloted for industrial action. 

Mick Cash, general secretary of the union, said: “As far as we are concerned 0% in 2015 is a pay cut as it means that our members pay will not keep up with the cost of living. The travel offer we have received is nothing more than a card that can be purchased by any member of the travelling public, falling well short of our demand of free travel for all. In addition, we are extremely concerned that the ‘No Compulsory Redundancy’ commitment only applies to the first year of the four year deal. 

“RMT is in no doubt that this leaves Operations and Maintenance members extremely vulnerable, especially with the continued development of Rail Operating Centres and the on-going cuts programme at Network Rail. Having discussed this proposal with reps from across the country, RMT is strongly recommending members vote NO to reject this offer – a vote that would automatically place us in dispute and which would trigger a full, national industrial action ballot.

“RMT remains available for talks and we hope that the company will appreciate the anger amongst staff at the current offer on pay and conditions from Network Rail and that they will agree to our call to come back to the table with an improved package.”

The referendum will close on Tuesday 24 March 2015.

A Network Rail spokesman told RTM: "Network Rail is funded in five year chunks running to 2019. We have offered the RMT a four-year wage deal for our employees that reflects this. It is a good and fair offer linked to inflation, gives our people certainty and keeps their pay highly competitive."

(Image source: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

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