RMT union members at Network Rail are preparing for a rolling programme of industrial action to begin next week after rejecting bosses’ latest offer on pay and job security.
The union, along with the TSSA union, suspended national action set for Monday and Tuesday of this week to put the offer to their members.
But a national RMT reps’ meeting told union leaders today, Thursday, it was not good enough.
TSSA is reported to be balloting over the next two weeks. However, it has advised members not to cover the work of colleagues on strike. It has also stated that it would support any member facing disciplinary for refusing to cross a picket line.
Some 16,000 RMT members are now set to strike for 24 hours from 5pm on Thursday of next week followed by a 48-hour walkout from 5pm on 9 June.
There is also to be a seven-day action short of a strike where members are instructed not to work any overtime, additional hours or extended shifts and not to undertake any call-out duties from 6 June.
Network Rail bosses want to make workers pay for austerity but they can well afford to give workers more than a 1 percent pay increase this year and 1.4 percent next year.
The state owned infrastructure firm made over £1 billion profit last year. Its executives enjoy six-figure salaries, bumper pay increases and total packages worth up to £1 million a year – but they expect workers to sacrifice their living standards.
As the RMT points out, “The blunt truth is that this dispute could be settled for a fraction of the money being handed out in senior manager bonuses and to the train operators for not running services.”
And with no further guarantees on protecting jobs beyond the end of 2016 it is clear bosses want more cuts.
The Tories have signalled their intention to further restrict workers’ right to strike, with higher ballot thresholds, and even stricter curbs on “essential public services” workers like those at Network Rail.
Calling escalated action is two fingers to both the bosses and the government.
Network Rail staff do long unsociable hours in dirty and dangerous conditions to keep the railway network going. They deserve better than pay cuts and the prospect of losing their job.
But workers have the power to force the bosses to accept their demands. We need to get behind their strike. A victory for them would boost everyone who wants to beat the Tories and drive back the attacks to come.