RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today that members on Network Rail maintenance have voted by 77% for strike action and by 89% for action short of a strike over plans by the company to axe up to 1500 safety-critical jobs and to rip up national agreements on working practices.
The RMT executive will now discuss the next steps in the dispute at a meeting next Friday – 19th March – in light of the massive mandate for action that has been delivered by the members and to consider the ballot result in sister rail union TSSA. RMT has issued a further call to Network Rail Chairman Rick Haythornthwaite today to re-open talks on the maintenance cuts plans.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“RMT members were faced with a stark choice in this ballot. They could either sit back and wait for these cash-led maintenance cuts to lead to another major disaster on Britain’s railways or they could vote to take action to stop the attack on rail safety. They have overwhelmingly voted to take action.
Nobody should be under any illusions about just how determined RMT members are to win this dispute and to stop this reckless gamble with rail safety. Nearly 150 MP’s have signed the Early Day Motion opposing Network Rail’s cuts plans and have urged the Government to intervene to call a halt to this jobs carnage on the tracks. We are reissuing that call today.
RMT is in no doubt that the cuts programme drawn up by Network Rail would drag us back to the dark days of Railtrack and would make another Hatfield, Potters Bar of Grayrigg disaster an inevitability. That is what this dispute is all about and even the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has had to concede that the botched attempt to bulldoze through these cuts has raised serious safety concerns.
RMT remains available for talks with Network Rail and we would hope that in light of the overwhelming mandate for action delivered by our members today that the Chairman will respond to our request for meaningful discussions aimed at ensuring that the staffing levels required to deliver a safe rail system are maintained.”