Network Rail has invited union leaders to “intensive” talks next week in a bid to avert a fresh wave of strikes in a long-running row over pay, jobs and conditions.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said its members will strike on 3, 5 and 7 November, threatening more travel misery for passengers after months of industrial action.
Network Rail’s chief negotiator, Tim Shoveller, has written to the RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, strongly denying union claims of a U-turn on a pay offer.
He wrote: “Nothing could be further from the truth. People were concerned to know if the current offer had been withdrawn and we simply confirmed it was still on the table.
“We remain open to additional ideas that would make us more productive and generate additional funding for pay.
“On one issue our offer has changed already – for the better. Recognising colleagues’ genuine fears about job security, we are now offering an even stronger jobs guarantee.
“This is our commitment to no compulsory redundancy for general grades colleagues until 31 January 2025.”
Shoveller said that Network Rail’s offer includes a 4% increase in base pay backdated to 1 January 2022, including shift pay and overtime; a 4% increase in base pay from 1 January 2023; a £250 increase in base salary backdated to January 2021 for workers whose annual base salary in 2021 was less than £24,000; and a 75% discount on leisure travel for staff, their partner and any dependents.
The letter added: “This comprehensively responds to the elements in your dispute. In the current climate of significant economic uncertainty and looming public spending cuts I think that’s a fair package.
“And I think many of our colleagues think so too, which is why we are disappointed you’ve never put it to a referendum.”
Network Rail has always been transparent about 1,850 maintenance jobs being lost over the next 12-18 months through a voluntary redundancy scheme, Shoveller added.
Royal Mail workers, BT staff and Openreach engineers will also walk out over pay and conditions on Thursday in one of the biggest strikes in years.
Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are embroiled in long-running rows with the companies and have already taken strike action in recent weeks.