Rail strikes threat as Network Rail’s retirement plans provoke union fury

A rail union boss has warned of a national strike by rail workers after Network Rail unveiled a new retirement scheme for its 34,000 workers.

Network Rail announced its new defined benefit scheme for its 34,000 employees, based on the average of an employee’s earnings.

The Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) scheme will see 60% of the cost met by the employer and 40% by employees.

Iain Coucher, chief executive of Network Rail, said: “Our new CARE scheme will give everyone another option when making retirement planning decisions, an option that is a good balance between cost to the individual and the benefits it pays out.”

However, Bob Crow, the general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), said: “This isn’t about widening choice, it’s about undermining the existing final-salary scheme and a cynical attempt to undermine the Railway Pensions Commission before anyone has had a chance to discuss its findings.

“I am in no doubt that if the company persists in imposing a worse pension scheme there will be a national rail strike.”

Meanwhile, train drivers in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire are set for a two-day walkout after talks with rail operator London Midland broke down on 14 February. On the last two days of February, 175 members of the Aslef union based at London Midland’s Bletchley depot will strike over changes to their pension scheme.

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