Trouble brews for Network Rail

17 May 2004
Network Rail staff are to be balloted on strike action over the decision to axe final salary pension schemes for new workers.

Up to 2,000 members of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) - mainly clerical workers - could be involved in the action.

A permanent ban on official and unofficial overtime could ensue if members support industrial action.

The TSSA said Network Rail was entirely to blame for the unrest and blasted the firm for refusing to go to arbitration.

Gerry Doherty, TSSA general secretary, said: "The company's macho approach has meant it has even rebuffed our offer to go to arbitration.

"By ignoring employees' views so completely, it has left us with little choice.

"The last thing we want to do is cause disruption to passengers - our record on taking action proves this.

"But we have a responsibility to protect pensions within the rail industry for future generations of workers."

The TSSA's decision to ballot members brings into contrast the growing frustration with Network Rail and the erosion of final salary pension schemes. The TSSA is not usually associated with militancy. It last took industrial action three decades ago.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), the UK's biggest and most outspoken rail union, is to ballot Network Rail members over pay and pensions with the prospect of joint strikes on the railways and London Underground.

Commuters could face travel chaos on mainline trains later this month.

The RMT will ballot around 9,000 drivers, station staff, signallers and maintenance workers later this week on whether to stage strikes in early June.

The forthcoming Bank Holiday could be affected by stoppages, as could June 10th, when European, local government and London mayoral elections take place.

The union is challenging London Underground (LU) and Tube maintenance firms to boost the wages of its workers.

The RMT said the three per cent pay rise offered by LU and the private firms failed to "remotely" approach the union's expectations.