Network Rail workers will strike for 48 hours on bank holiday Monday, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said today.
The strike has been looming since 80 per cent of members voted in favour of industrial action earlier this week. Network Rail's latest pay deal - a one-off £500 payment to staff and three years of payrises in line with inflation - is viewed by the union as falling "well short" of what is required for an acceptable standard of living.
However, it's worth noting members voted by a much larger margin of 92 per cent in favour of other forms of industrial action, "short of a strike".
But in a statement today, RMT said Network Rail had failed to "offer any further negotiations".
Noting... the overwhelming support of our members for industrial action in support of our campaign for job security and improved pay, the General Secretary is to instruct our members to take the following action in what is the start of a rolling campaign of industrial action.
General secretary Mick Cash added:
We have a massive mandate for action which shows the anger of safety-critical staff across the rail network at attacks on their standards of living and their job security. It is appalling that NR are refusing point blank to take this dispute seriously, to understand the deep-seated grievance felt by their staff and to come forward with a renewed offer which protects pay, jobs and safety.
Network Rail says that it has given pay rises above those of other sectors, where real wages have dropped. It also gave us the following statement, from Mark Carne, itschief executive:
This strike is deliberately timed to cause maximum disruption to families trying to enjoy the half-term break and millions more returning to work after the bank holiday. I find it deplorable that the RMT can hold the travelling public to ransom in this way.
This week we have been talking to ACAS to try to get the RMT back around the table. The public knows only too well that our railway must improve. We want to work with the unions so that we can reward our staff through improved productivity.
The RMT say we can afford more than what’s on offer. What they don’t say is that Network Rail is a public service body and that all profits are reinvested in building a bigger, better, more reliable railway. Any pay increase comes from the pockets of taxpayers and fare paying passengers.