SWT gives in – but RMT laments lack of negotiation

South
West Trains has attempted to end the current rail dispute by offering staff the
7.6 per cent 18-month pay increase that the RMT union has been demanding for
its members.

But
the RMT has rejected the offer, claiming that the company has ignored the negotiations
procedure.

The
train operator has offered to give guards and station staff a backdated pay
increase of 4 per cent from April last year.

The
offer includes a further 3.6 per cent increase this April with a pay review in
October this year was also put forward.

This
compares to the deal offered to train drivers of a 3.8 per cent increase last
April and a similar rise this April.

Andrew
Haines, managing director at SWT, said, "The recent strikes have been a
damaging and painful experience for our passengers, our employees and our
company. It is vital that we now move forward and find a way to build trust
between us (the company, staff and the union).

"We
recognise that this is not all that everyone wanted, but we believe the
increase is the best in the country and it also gives our employees much of
what they said was important to them."

The
RMT reacted angrily to the announcement. "I am very disappointed that SWT
believes that it can resolve this matter by bypassing the negotiations
procedure," said acting general secretary of RMT Vernon Hince.

"The
only way of moving forward is to reach a negotiated settlement through proper
talks – that is what proper industrial relations are all about."

By Paul Nelson

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