Rail strike affecting Lincolnshire likely after workers vote

Network Rail workers have voted in favour of taking widespread industrial action in an ongoing dispute over pay.

The UK-wide action, affecting services across Lincolnshire, moved a step closer after 80% of the 60% of RMT Union members who turned out to vote opted for a strike.

Some 92% voted for action short of a strike, the union confirmed, after rejecting the latest pay proposals as “falling short of what is required to maintain living standards, the job security and the working conditions of nearly 16,000 staff”.

No time or date has yet been set aside for the proposed action. It is expected that should action be taken it would be likely to cause significant disruption across the rail network.

Network Rail and Train Operators are developing contingency plans and are “working to understand the full impact”.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association is balloting its members, with the results due next week. Seven days’ notice would have to be given by the union of any strike action.

Despite a failure to agree pay terms with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the group are stating that they remain available for talks with Network Rail, the company behind the majority of the UK’s rail infrastructure.

The union is rejecting proposals for a one-off £500 bonus but no pay rise this year, with salaries then limited to retail-prices-index inflation until 2019.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members have today decisively rejected the pay package offered by Network Rail. It is now down to NR to start taking this issue seriously, to understand the deep-seated grievance felt by their staff and to come forward with a renewed offer which protects pay and jobs.

“The union executive will now consider this overwhelming mandate for action and decide on our next steps aimed at securing pay and workplace justice.

“RMT is in no doubt that this leaves Operations and Maintenance members extremely vulnerable, especially with the continued development of Rail Operating Centres and the on-going cuts programme at Network Rail.”

The potential strike was condemned by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin on May 12. He said: “I condemn any industrial action that disrupts the travelling public. I want to see Network Rail and the unions back round the negotiating table, hammering out a deal.

“Rail passengers will not thank the unions for inflicting this unnecessary disruption.”