Network Rail has urged the RMT union to attend talks on “modern working practices” as more than 40,000 rail workers walked out today in what is considered the biggest rail strike in a generation.
RMT members working for Network Rail and 13 other operators went on strike over job cuts and salaries after Network Rail announced it was axing hundreds of maintenance jobs as part of a £100m annual spending review.
Delivered to RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch, the letter argued that it had always made clear Network Rail had to make “meaningful changes to working practices by April 2023.”
“We cannot, however, delay any longer and with that in mind we intend to consult formally with you on the implementation of changes to a number of working practices which we believe can be changed within the existing agreements and T&Cs (terms and conditions) under which our Maintenance and Works Delivery staff are employed,” wrote Network Rail’s east coast route director Paul Rutter.
Network Rail argued that, even though it didn’t need to hold talks with unions, it still wanted to implement the changes with their “agreement and cooperation.”
Under the operator’s plan, around 1,800 jobs would be reduced through voluntary severance and natural wastage, as well as with the introduction of new technology.
“These changes are vital for to put our railway on a firm financial footing for the future and will help us to save £100 million, while potentially giving us the flexibility needed to solve this industrial dispute,” Network Rail added.