Network Rail offers to raise wages for workers to prevent further strikes
Network Rail, which owns Britain’s train infrastructure, has offered to raise wages for workers at two unions to prevent further crippling strikes this summer.
The state-owned company said it had offered the union RMT a 5% pay raise in a two-year deal, which also included the promise of no mandatory redundancies.
This proposal depends on members accepting sweeping reforms, especially for maintenance personnel.
Negotiators for the RMT, which brought many British rail divisions to a standstill when its members went on strike for three days last month, said they would take the offer to its executive committee. on Wednesday. If the committee accepts the agreement, the offer will be passed on to the members.
But in a sign that may not be enough for the union, RMT said Network Rail’s offer still equates to a pay cut in real terms, which would involve cutting the insurance role by a third. frontline maintenance and worse than agreements already agreed with a number of transport operators.
“Railway workers have lost thousands of pounds in income due to wage freezes in recent years and they are refusing to see short-term changes again,” said RMT boss Mick Lynch.
Network Rail offers include a 4% salary increase in the first year, rollback to January and 2% the following year, with an additional 2% incentive that year if modernization goals are achieved, as well as bonuses . salary will increase by about 5%.
The public body said the lowest-paid staff, considered those earning less than £30,000, would receive the biggest increase.
RMT management has pushed for a salary increase of 7 to 8% to offset inflation expected to hit 11% in the fall.
The union is still negotiating separately with train operators in a similar dispute over wages, working practices and potential job losses.
Employees at two other transport unions, Aslef and TSSA, have also in recent days advocated industrial action without setting a date for the walkout, raising the possibility of coordinated strikes in most parts of the country. Train operators brought railways to a virtual standstill this summer.
TSSA on Tuesday also said Network Rail had offered a raise, but said it “didn’t come close to what our members expected”.
The company offers a 3% salary increase for management and 4% for general staff, with the potential for further increases if the “productivity target” is met.
Only about 20% of train service was running when RMT members went on strike in June, largely because there were few contingency plans to replace signers.
Industry executives believe strikes at train operators will be easier to manage, except in the case of drivers leaving, when there is virtually no service on the affected lines. .
Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Aslef drivers’ association, told the Financial Times last week that a strike by his members would cause “major disruption”.
The pay offers from Network Rail are the first sign of a possible exit from the labor disputes that have plagued the railways in recent weeks.
“Although money is tight due to the financial troubles of the railway after the pandemic, we can afford to make this offer if our people accept the change and compromise, which will fund it,” Network Rail said of RMT’s offer.
Unions have called on the government, which sets the industry’s budget, to get directly involved in the negotiations and provide more money to the public to raise wages.
Ministers say the government has poured £16 billion into the industry since the pandemic began, and that sweeping reforms and modernization are needed.