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Network Rail makes new offer in bid to break deadlock over pay and conditions

·4-min read

Network Rail has made a new offer to workers aimed at breaking the deadlocked row over pay, jobs and conditions.

But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union (RMT) said the offer amounts to a real-terms pay cut over the next two years and would cut a third of frontline maintenance roles and half of scheduled maintenance work.

Talks have been held between the company and unions since the RMT staged three 24-hour strikes last month, which crippled services.

Rail and Tube strikes
The RMT picket line outside Nottingham railway station (Nadia Whittome)

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said in a message to members on Tuesday that the new offer was dependent on productivity and modernisation clauses.

He said: “It amounts to a real-terms pay cut for members over the next two years and would cut a third of all frontline maintenance roles and half of all scheduled maintenance work.

“There is also a wholescale expectation of unsocial hours and lower pay across the board.

“Network Rail has offered high level managers a huge hike in salary in return for very modest flexibility compared to what you and your colleagues have been offered.

“All companies involved in this dispute need to understand that key railway workers have lost thousands of pounds in earnings due to a pay freeze in recent years – and rightly, you refuse to be short-changed again.

“Settlements reached with London Underground and recently Merseyrail are also well in excess of what you have been offered here.

“We will not hesitate to call further strike action and co-ordinate this with other trade unions if the industry continues to fob us off with unacceptable offers.”

Talks between the RMT and train operators were taking place on Tuesday evening.

The RMT Executive Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss its next move.

Network Rail said it was communicating details of the new offer direct to its employees this evening.

It said it was a two-year deal worth over 5% for all RMT members and more for those paid under £30,000.

A 4% rise on basic pay would be paid in year one, backdated to January, with 2.2% in year two and a further 2% if modernisation reforms milestones are met.

There would also be 75% discounted travel for employees and family from January 2023, and around a £650 cash “bonus” for all.

There would be a further £250 lump sum for those paid under £24,000.

Network Rail is also offering a no compulsory redundancy guarantee for the two years.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Today we have put a new pay offer on the table for our RMT colleagues which will be worth over 5%, conditional on achieving savings through modernising reforms.

“There’s also money on the table for a fair and affordable deal for next year too. While money is extremely tight because of the railway’s financial troubles following the pandemic, we can afford to make this offer if our people accept change and compromise, which will fund it.”

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association said it has received improved pay offers from Network Rail following a day of talks with the company, describing them as still falling “well below” the expectations of its members.

The union said the offers “bake in real terms pay cuts”.

A pay offer of 3% has been made for management grades and 4% for general grades, with the potential for more if ‘productivity’ targets are met, said TSSA.

General secretary Manuel Cortes said: “These latest offers don’t come close to what our Network Rail members expect.

“After years of pay freezes, these latest proposals will only bake in real terms pay cuts for everyone across Network Rail.

“However, we note that after a decade of a commitment by NR bosses to no compulsory redundancies this is back on the table.

“Frankly, they only threatened compulsory redundancies in order to seek to cow our members into accepting a rubbish pay deal.

“The truth is now out, there’s no need for compulsory redundancies and the challenge for NR fat cats is to now deliver a pay increase which decreases the number of our members having to visit a food bank or struggling to make ends meet.

“Our reps will now consider these offers which come with more than 50 strings attached. The company expects our union to consider the dispute over. It isn’t.

“Network Rail top brass need to wake up. From their managers right through to support and front-line staff – rail staff across Network Rail have had enough.”

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