Strike action once again looms on the railways after Network Rail signallers and operational staff voted for industrial action in a row over pay.
RMT members will stage two 24-hour strikes between 1pm on Tuesday 20 June and 12:59pm on Wednesday 21 June, and between 9pm on Sunday 25 June and 20:59pm on Monday 26 June.
They voted to strike over union claims that a three-year pay offer would effectively mean a two-year pay freeze and further delay to a 35-hour week that should have been in place three months ago for another year.
Network Rail denies the union claims and said the proposed pay settlement would mean above-inflation increases, a doubling of travel subsidies and a 35-hour working week from April 2007.
Network Rail chief executive, John Armitt, said the company was seeking further talks with the trade unions to try and find a way to a negotiated settlement and avert a strike that would cause great disruption for passengers and damage public confidence in the railway.
“We have, for some time, been making plans to deal with a strike, and in the event we will do all we can to run as many services as possible and minimise the disruption caused to our customers,” he said. “We are particularly disappointed that the planned strikes will jeopardise the commute home and the viewing pleasure of millions of fans who are eager to watch England’s third and possible fourth games in the World Cup.”
RMT general secretary Bob Crow has accused the rail infrastructure company of double standards after senior executives at Network Rail received “telephone number”-sized bonuses after hitting their targets last year.
“Our negotiation team remains available for talks, but our members have made it clear that they are fed up with the double standards and are determined to win justice on pay,” he said.