Four rail unions will begin balloting tens of thousands of their members for strike action if the bosses of the various infrastructure and operating companies fail to agree with proposals for saving pensions by 28 April.
RMT, ASLEF, TSSA and the engineering confederation CSEU are demanding that the Railway Pensions Scheme remain open to all workers, that employee contributions are capped, that at least the current level of benefits is maintained, and that the ridiculous proliferation of subschemes created by privatisation and fragmentation on the railway be streamlined into three basic categories.
If the employers do not back down, major employee-contribution increases are due to be triggered by default on 1 July.
Joint mass meetings organised by the four unions have already taken place in London, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff, York, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth. A further meeting is planned for Liverpool on 10 May, and a lobby of parliament for 9 May.
If the ballot goes ahead and workers vote yes, this summer will see the first industry-wide shutdown since the General Strike.