Tens of thousands of rail workers in the RMT and TSSA unions are balloting for strike action over pensions.
The rail unions have been demanding that the employers commit to ensure that the Railway Pensions Scheme remains open to all employees, cap employee contributions to a reasonable level, maintain benefits and streamline the 100 sections created by the fragmentation of the railways under privatisation.
The ballot has forced the employers to make concessions to the unions.
A document is now being circulated among the employers, the unions and the government.
If accepted this would mean the setting up of a commission with an independent chairperson and one representative from the employers and unions, to resolve the issues and ensure the long term financial health of the scheme.
But the ballot is continuing despite this movement from the bosses. This will help to keep up the pressure on management and the government.
Salim Patel is a member of the RMT union who works at the Virgin train depot in Euston, central London.
He was also a Respect candidate in the recent local elections in Newham, east London.
He came within 100 votes of being elected in the Forest Gate South ward.
Salim Patel told Socialist Worker, “Everyone I know is voting yes in the ballot. We are campaigning for a yes vote to defend our pensions.
“People are angry and united. I expect a handsome yes vote.
“The TSSA members I have spoken to at Euston are also very upset.
“Many people are concerned that the Aslef train drivers’ union are not balloting alongside us.
“The unions should be uniting together as this issue affects everyone – the drivers, guards, station staff, maintenance workers, cleaners, catering.
“If I had been elected on 4 May I would have been a voice of the RMT on Newham council.
“The union should be backing candidates in elections, like myself and other Respect members, who support the union’s policies.
“I will not let my union down.”
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