RMT members at Network Rail vote to accept pay offer
RMT members have voted overwhelmingly in support of a new pay deal offered by Network Rail, bringing an end to the long-running dispute.
The union revealed that more than three quarters of its Network Rail members had voted in support of the deal, which includes a 9.2 per cent salary increase for all staff and a 14.4 per cent uplift for the lowest-paid workers.
It means one of the three remaining disputes on the railways has ended, with Network Rail workers, crucially including signallers, ending any industrial action for the foreseeable future.
However, the RMT’s dispute with rail operating companies continues, with two more strike dates set for March 30 and April 1. Aslef, the body that represents train drivers, is also still in dispute with the rail operating companies.
Earlier this month, the RMT announced that it was suspending all planned Network Rail industrial action after the organisation put forward a revised offer.
It then put the deal to a referendum and said it would not be advising members on how to vote. According to the union, 76 per cent of its members voted to back the pay deal, with a 90 per cent turnout.
The news was welcomed by Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, who said it was positive that RMT members had backed the “fair and reasonable” offer.
He urged the union to call off its forthcoming strikes and put the pay offer from the rail operating companies out for a vote so imembers could have their say.
However, Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, said that the dispute with the rail firms remained “firmly on”, adding: “If the Government now allows the train companies to make the right offer, we can then put that to our members but until then the strike action scheduled for March 30 and April 1 will take place.”
The deal offered to the RMT by Network Rail included a similar salary rise to other offers, but Network Rail effectively manufactured a larger payout for workers by extending the period of back pay covers by three months.
This will mean that workers will receive effectively a 1.1 per cent boost in additional earning on the original 9 per cent offer. It will be received in the form of a lump sum on the first payday that the deal comes into force.
The dispute between the RMT and Network Rail began last spring and has seen a series of strike days, as well as a ban on overtime by the union.
The end of the Network Rail dispute means signallers, crucial to the running of services, will no longer be striking.
Andrew Haines, the Network Rail chief executive, said: “I’m pleased that RMT members were able to vote on this offer and the overwhelming vote in favour is good news for our people, our passengers and our country.
“I’m grateful for everyone who worked so hard at Network Rail and in the RMT to find a way through this dispute. My team and I will now focus all our efforts on rebuilding our railway so we can provide a better service for our passengers and freight customers.”
There were fears that the dispute would continue indefinitely after Network Rail said last month that negotiations had reached a “roadblock” and both parties were taking a “hiatus”.
It came after Mr Harper said that Network’s Rail last offer was the “last and final” offer and that the Government would not be increasing the money put forward.