Network Rail is withholding bonuses from two groups of workers in an action of anti-union spite and scapegoating. As the company - supposedly 'not-for-profit' - reported record profits, NWR refused maintenance workers in the Grayrigg area their £400 bonus and docked £300 from Scottish signallers and supervisors who took strike action earlier this year.
The investigation into the Grayrigg derailment is still ongoing, yet NWR is treating its employees as if they are guilty - all 119 of them! Top bosses continually claim that the justification for their fat-cat salaries is that they bear huge responsibility on their shoulders - but when it comes to actually taking some responsibility, they dump it on someone else.
NWR is ‘forgetting’ that it was its own managers' unreasonableness that forced the strike. It is now making those 400+ workers, who have already lost money by striking, pay again.
Meanwhile, Network Rail bosses continue to trouser fat-cat payouts, and only suspended their own annual bonuses in the face of a public outcry, doubtless to pay themselves when the fuss has died down a bit. Poor things, for now they will have to live on their over-inflated salaries alone.
Rightly, RMT immediately announced a ballot for strike action. But the union is only balloting those members directly affected, and many union activists are calling for it to include all NWR employees nationwide. After all, maintenance and operational staff across the country can easily see that if the employer gets away with this they could be next in line. And, knowing an outrageous injustice when they see one, they will rally to the support of their workmates in Scotland and Cumbria.
RMT is showing that it is prepared to defend its members against this vindictive, penny-pinching employer. But it must do so with maximum unity and effectiveness, and show faith in its members' willingness to fight whether they are directly affected or not. Let's not punch below our weight!