Up the ante in Network Rail pay dispute

Submitted by AWL on 14 April, 2015 - 5:36

After members of the rail union RMT working for Network Rail rejected a pay offer by 93%, the company made an improved offer, which union reps will meet to discuss on 16 April. A Network Rail worker spoke to Solidarity.

Network Rail management cannot have it both ways.

While our recent pay increases have been better than in standard in the private sector, they have still been effectively holding settlements — i.e., in line with inflation, but not an improvement in our standard of living.

Now, with the economy supposedly doing better, we were first offered a pay freeze for 2015, then only RPI for 2016, 2017, and 2018. After we rejected that, the company has offered a ÂŁ500 non-consolidated lump-sum for 2015, with the next three years still tied to RPI (although with a promise of no pay cuts if RPI falls below zero).

We want improvements, especially when some parts of the private sector, which management want to use as the yardstick against which to measure our pay, have had increases in pay higher than inflation.

The promise of no compulsory redundancies has been another stick which management try to use on these occasions: “Accept a lower pay deal and we won’t get rid of so many of you”. This is yet another con.

In the course of our recent two-year settlements, with the “no redundancies” clause in place, how many re-organisations have taken place where jobs have been reduced under spurious “natural wastage” and the non-filling of vacancies?

The truth is that the workforce has shrunk, and we are all having to work harder to fill the gaps. Our increased productivity alone should earn us a hefty increase but all we have seen is an increase in management bonuses.

The so-called “travel concessions” offered were not much help either, as they represent nothing more than what any member of the travelling public with access to a paid-for discount railcard would get. Network Rail has withdrawn this offer in the “improved” deal.

It’s positive that the first pay offer was so overwhelmingly rejected in the recent ballot, but the obvious is question is why the union didn’t ballot for strikes at the same time. It was clear people opposed the lousy offer, but the leadership ducked the issue by making the ballot merely consultative.

It sends the message that our own leadership has no confidence in either the membership’s willingness to fight, or in their own ability to build confidence.

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