National rail workers have voted unanimously in favour of a national rail strike due to the state of their wages over the next few years! Whilst executive pay across the UK has risen 43% on average in the last year rail workers are expected to take a pay freeze until until 2019 with only a chance of a £500 bonus payment and slight rise in line with inflation! They are also set to walk out due to a guarantee against job losses being removed under the conservative government.
Pay has always been a heavily debated topic in the rail industry due to senior executives at the taxpayer funded infrastructure operator being amongst the best paid in the public sector. At the same time, Network Rail has received repeated criticism for poor performance.
The result will be monitored by David Cameron, prime minister, who has vowed to make it more difficult for workers to go on strike.
Sajid Javid, the newly appointed business secretary, stated on Tuesday that fresh measures would be included in the Queen’s Speech requiring turnout of at least 50 per cent of those entitled to vote for a walkout to go ahead. Employers would also be allowed to hire agency staff to fill gaps left by workers who have gone on strike.
The RMT’s vote on Tuesday beat the government’s planned threshold with members backing a walkout by 4 to 1 on a turnout of 60 per cent. Workers voted by a bigger margin — 92 per cent — for other forms of industrial action. ( source financial times )
Mick Cash, general secretary at the RMT, said: “As far as we are concerned the one-off, non-consolidated, lump-sum payment this year is wholly inadequate and fails to recognise the massive pressures staff are working under to keep services running at a time when the company is generating profits of £1bn. It is our members battling to keep Britain moving around the clock and they deserve a fair share from Network Rail for their incredible efforts.”
A second rail union, the TSSA, is announcing the result of a strike ballot of its own 3,000 members on Friday.
Mark Carne, Network Rail chief executive, said: “The railways are a vital public service and industrial action would have a massive impact on millions of passengers as well as freight distribution across Britain. It cannot be right that the unions can hold the country to ransom in this way.
Network Rail says that pay for its staff has risen faster over the past four years than for workers in most other sectors, who have seen wages decline in real terms since 2011.
Although individual train operators have faced strikes over the past two decades, this could be the first national strike for more than 20 years. The last dispute, in 1994, involved staff at Network Rail’s predecessor, Railtrack. About two-thirds of trains were cancelled over a series of strike days.
Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said: “I condemn any industrial action that disrupts the travelling public. I want to see Network Rail and the unions back round the negotiating table, hammering out a deal.
“Rail passengers will not thank the unions for inflicting this unnecessary disruption.”
We would like to hear your views are you in favour of a national rail strike?