UK

Network Rail workers to go on strike in June

Network Rail staff Image copyright PA

Network Rail workers are to walk out in June after a pay offer was rejected.

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members will hold a 24-hour strike from 17:00 BST on 4 June and a 48-hour strike from 17:00 on 9 June.

Staff had been due to walk out last week in the row over pay, but the union's executive suspended the action when Network Rail offered a new deal.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the strike action was "unnecessary and unreasonable".

Union reps met on Thursday to discuss the latest offer but it was rejected, leading to the announcement of fresh strikes.

The RMT's 16,000 members at Network Rail work across the company's operations and maintenance.

'Massive pressures'

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said they had been left with "no option" but to start the industrial action.

He said: "Our rail staff deserve a fair reward for the high-pressure, safety-critical work that they undertake day and night and the last thing that we need is a demoralised, burnt-out workforce living in fear for their livelihoods and their futures and the message has come back loud and clear that that is exactly how they feel about the current offer from Network Rail."

Mr Cash said there was a "massive mandate" for the strike, showing the "anger of safety-critical staff across the rail network at attacks on their standards of living".

Network Rail originally offered a four-year deal of a single £500 payment followed by three years of rises in line with RPI inflation.

The new offer was for two years, with a 1% rise this year and a rise of about 1.4% next year. There would be no compulsory redundancies for the duration of the agreement.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The industrial action is expected to cause widespread disruption to rail travel

The RMT claimed each day of the strike would lead to Network Rail paying compensation of £30m to train companies.

Mr Cash added: "With no shortage of cash in the bonus pot and to compensate the private train companies, it is no wonder that our members take the view that 1% is wholly inadequate and fails to recognise the massive pressures staff are working under to keep services running safely at a time when the company is generating profits of £1bn.

"It is our members battling to keep Britain moving around the clock, often in appalling conditions, and they deserve a fair share from Network Rail for their incredible efforts."

He said RMT would remain "available for talks", calling for Network Rail to improve their offer.

Contingency plans

Mark Carne, Network Rail's chief executive, said: "Our people know that there are ways to improve the way work is done. I have always said that if we work together to realise these benefits there is the possibility to increase pay.

"We are therefore ready to get around the table with whoever the RMT consider can speak on behalf of their members. It is clearly unacceptable for the RMT to massively disrupt the travelling public with strike action when we are ready to continue talks."

Network Rail said it will now restart its contingency planning with train operators, ahead of the planned strike.

Mr McLoughlin said "millions of hardworking people" would be disrupted by the strike.

He added: "Over the past four years Network Rail staff have enjoyed pay rises eight times higher than other public sector workers. By any measure RMT members already get a fair deal.

"It is very disappointing that RMT has now rejected a deal delivered through Acas talks that the union's leadership agreed was a reasonable offer.

"The government will do everything it can to help keep people and goods moving during the strike."

'Major advance'

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), which also suspended a strike planned for the bank holiday weekend, is to ballot its 3,000 members at Network Rail on the new offer.

TSSA official Lorraine Ward said: "With the expected cuts in the public sector from the new Tory government, our members were as much concerned about job security as they were about pay.

"This offer means there will be no compulsory redundancies at NR for at least the next two years. Given the current climate, we think this is a major advance."

The result of the ballot will be announced on 13 June.

More on this story