The RMT union has demanded that Network Rail “negotiate seriously” over pay or face strike action.
The union has balloted 5,000 members for strike action in a dispute over the rail infrastructure company’s offer of a 3.2% pay increase plus a lump sum of £250 this year and further lump sums of £300 in 2007 and £350 in 2008.
The union claims that, due to inflation, this would amount to a two-year pay freeze.
The RMT also claims Network Rail is trying to delay the implementation of a 35-hour week that should have been in place three months ago.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow accused Network Rail of double standards after it was revealed last month that chief executive John Armitt will get a £240,408 cash bonus and a long-term incentive payout of £112,320 in addition to his £504,000 salary.
“After seeing top executives pocket hundreds of thousands of pounds in bonuses on top of telephone-number salaries there is no way our members will accept seeing their own pay frozen in real terms in 2007 and 2008,” Crow said.
“If that wasn’t enough, the company has not only gone back on a commitment to implement a 35-hour week by March this year, but is has now put it back another year and is trying to make it conditional on swallowing the unacceptable pay offer.
“If Network Rail wants to avoid strike action it should get around the table and negotiate seriously and drop the double standards,” Crow said.