RMT ballots 3,000 rail engineering workers over threat to jobs

MORE THAN 3,000 rail engineering workers at six of Network Rail’s key contractors are to be balloted for industrial action by Britain’s biggest rail union over jobs after each failed to give assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies.

Around 1,000 RMT members at Jarvis have already begun voting on action after the company announced plans to axe 450 jobs, blaming NR’s decision to shelve 28 per cent of track renewals this year. The Jarvis ballot will close on April 21.

The union has also now informed bosses at Balfour Beatty (rail plant and infrastructure divisions), Babcock, Colas, Amey Infrastructure and Volker Rail Plant that it is in dispute after each failed to provide assurances that there would be no forced job losses, or that any transfers would come under ‘TUPE’ transfer of undertakings rules that protect conditions.

The Jarvis ballot is also over the company’s failure to observe the legal requirement for a 90-day consultation period over its plans.

It is absolutely crazy that hundreds, maybe thousands of skilled rail engineering workers are facing redundancy when Network Rail will spend nearly £3.5 billion on this type of work over the next five years,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

NR’s decision to defer nearly a third of this year’s renewals is senseless and reckless, but the contractors should be looking at the long-term picture rather than the short-term effect on shareholder dividends.

These companies have made tens of millions out of the railways, and they should be taking a hit on their profits rather than cutting jobs. But they have failed to give us simple assurances that there will be no compulsory job losses, and we are urging our members in all six firms to vote for action to defend their jobs.

For months we have been asking the government to step in and save essential rail jobs.

If the government is serious about bringing forward transport and green projects to help ride out the recession it cannot stand aside and allow skilled rail workers to be thrown onto the dole – not least in an industry already dependent on government subsidy.

That is why our members across the rail and Tube industry will lobby parliament on May 5 to demand a moratorium on job cuts, a freeze on dividends and a regime for the industry that will help to stimulate the economy rather than subsidise redundancies,” Bob Crow said.

Notes to editors: The ballot of RMT members at Jarvis will close on April 21, and a timetable for the other ballots will be set shortly.

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