On the right track? Rail boss optimistic but blames RMT for stalled talks after rejecting pay deal
The RMT recommending its members vote against Network Rail’s improved offer hasn’t helped negotiations progress, the company’s chief negotiator Tim Shoveller told MPs today.
Union members walked out between 6pm on Christmas Eve and 6am on 27 December as well as throughout last week after they rejected a 9 per cent pay offer.
As part of the offer, Network Rail also guaranteed that no compulsory redundancies would take place until January 2025 while offering discounts on rail travel for staff members and their families.
The deal was instead accepted by the unions Unite and TSSA.
Shoveller has told members of the Commons’ transport select committee that TSSA backing the deal helped bring the rail dispute with the union to an end.
“Employees will listen very clearly to what the union is saying,” he said. “And when the union suggests ‘yes, we think this is a deal you should support’ that brings a weight with it.”
Despite union leaders warning against it, 36 per cent of RMT members voted in favour of the pay deal.
“That’s quite significant and that’s one of the things that gives me optimism we are on the right track,” the chief negotiator added.
This is a sign that a resolution to the conflict might be closer in sight than initially predicted, as only 51 per cent of RMT members need to vote in favour for a deal to pass.
“It’s a couple of thousand people that need to change their vote,” Shoveller added.
“So I think there’s every chance by some very carefully targeted discussions at achieving that.”
Shoveller has told MPs he met with the RMT leadership yesterday and will meet again next week to give further reassurances to trade unionists.
“We can perhaps provide some further guidance on some areas that perhaps we didn’t explain very well,” he concluded.
“And therefore by doing that better, it gives our employees a better opportunity to understand just how good this deal can be for them.”
The RMT was approached for comment.