Network Rail operational staff reject pay offer and threaten ballot

Publication Date: March 6 2008

NETWORK RAIL has today been given seven days to improve its two-year pay and conditions offer to 7,000 signalling and other key operational staff or face ballots for industrial action by the two biggest rail unions.

In co-ordinated referendums that closed today members of RMT and TSSA in operational, customer services and project and engineering-support grades voted heavily to reject the offer, of 4.8 per cent this year and RPI plus 0.5 per cent in 2009.
Members of Unite have also been urged to reject the offer in a referendum yet to close.

The unions had signalled that the offer for year one would be acceptable, but that the second-year element would not protect members against the rising cost of living, with key costs, including fuel bills and pension contributions, rising far faster than the official inflation rate.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow today said: “By a margin of two to one our members have voted decisively to reject an inadequate offer that would leave them less well off.

“Their verdict is quite clear and we have today told Network Rail that unless there is an acceptable offer on the table within seven days we will put in place arrangements for a ballot for strike action.”

TSSA assistant general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We are happy to accept 4.8 per cent for this year but next year’s offer would mean a cut in our members’ living standards with soaring power bills and higher pension contributions,”

“They have demonstrated by this vote that they will not accept that situation and are now ready to vote on industrial action unless Network Rail comes back to the table with a sensible offer.”

Notes to editors: The company’s current two-year offer is of an increase of 4.8 per cent from January 2008 and Retail Price Index (RPI) plus 0.5 per cent from January 2009. It has also tabled a 6.7 per cent increase in London & South East allowances from April 2009, although with nothing offered in 2008, and an increase in the travel subsidy to 50 per cent in April 2008 and 60 per cent in April 2009.