Public Dissatisfied with RMT Union Approach Says Network Rail

Network Rail has said that the public was dissatisfied with how the RMT union was conducting its negotiations, but backed modernisation reforms.

A poll of 2,031 UK adults was conducted by Yonder between 1–3 July, which asked about opinions on the recent rail strikes, pay and modernisation of the railway. The result of this poll suggested “huge support” for rail industry reform and a “massive” vote of dissatisfaction with how the RMT union has approached negotiations.

According to the poll results, 78 percent of respondents believe that strike action should only be used as a last resort during an industrial dispute and 72 percent said they believed it was reasonable to adapt and modernise in exchange for pay increases.

Furthermore, 12 percent said they thought pay increases should be funded by allocating more taxpayer funds to operators, while 8 percent said the funds should come from increased passenger fares. Network Rail did not mention where, if anywhere, the remaining 80 percent of respondents thought the funding should come from.

Overall, just under two thirds (65 percent) of the respondents felt that modernising the railway and making it more efficient was the only way to cut ticket prices long-term.

Tim Shoveller, Network Rail Lead Negotiator, said:

“We want to give our people a decent pay rise but can only afford to do so through modernisation that will deliver savings that we can then pass on. The general public can see this is a reasonable approach.

“We continue to do everything we can to avoid further disruption for our passengers, and urge our unions to work with us at the negotiating table to agree a deal that is fair for workers, passengers and taxpayers.”

Most recently, the deal put forward by Network Rail is as follows: a two-year deal with a 4 percent increase on basic salary, backdated to January and a further 2 percent increase in the second year if modernisation milestones are met.

The RMT has responded to this offer by announcing a further national rail strike on 27 July.

[Commenting on this latest strike announcement, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said:” text=”It is incredibly frustrating the RMT has again chosen to disrupt our passengers, and even more so that they haven’t even put what was a fair and affordable two-year pay offer to their members. It is also deeply worrying that these strikes have clearly been designed to disrupt spectators heading to the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on 28 July, an event of huge national significance.

We have been clear that we can only fund an increase from our own budgets, and the only way we can afford that is by modernising working practices. The RMT’s rejection of our latest offer can only mean they want a pay increase to be funded either by more taxpayer support or higher passenger fares, neither of which we think are fair.

We urge the RMT to call this action off, get back round the table with us and show some willingness to compromise.”]

As reported by the BBC, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said the offer meant a real-terms pay cut for workers and beyond that RMT members would have to accept “drastic changes” to their working lives.

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