Railway staff set to strike over pay

RAIL PASSENGERS face cancelled services and longer train trips later this month because of a series of strikes by maintenance workers.

Leaders of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said its members will strike for four days from 19 June and for seven days from 29 June. Maintenance staff acted after private firms refused to meet their demands over pay and conditions.

Jimmy Knapp, general secretary of the RMT, accused the engineering companies of asking for "too much in return for too little compensation" under proposals to restructure pay and conditions.

The decision to strike was taken yesterday by the union's executive after more than 9,000 members - out of a possible 13,000 - voted for industrial action during earlier ballots.

Mr Knapp said the strikes would have a "considerable impact" on services. "The RMT is determined that privatisation is not going to mean exploitation. The companies are asking far too much from their staff for too little in compensation."

Railway privatisation saw the rail network sliced up and sold off to the private sector. The British Rail Infrastructure Services was no exception and unions fear the nine companies that maintain the railways will cut many of the benefits staff enjoyed under state control.

The RMT says the companies, which include Jarvis and Balfour Beatty, are being greedy.

Union officials pointed out they made a combined profit of pounds 300m last year, yet wanted a deal at the lowest cost.

Some workers will lose up to pounds 40 a week despite being forced to work more unsociable hours, says the union. The RMT argued that its members were entitled to pay rises, a 35-hour week and improved sick pay and holiday arrangements in return for accepting the new terms.

Workers involved in the dispute maintain track and equipment, including signals, sleepers and rails.

Mr Knapp said that there will be an immediate effect on services when the strike starts which will become "progressively worse". Experts say that as the dispute drags on more sections of track will need speed restrictions as vital engineering work is not done.

Railtrack, the company that hires staff to maintain the rail network, expected the impact to be "minimal to begin with".

Traffic slowed to a crawl yesterday as a lorry drivers' protest and a serious accident blocked routes. There were long tailbacks on the M6 in the West Midlands, and delays in Kent and central London, as drivers protested about the level of duty imposed on diesel fuel in Britain.

They say that cheaper diesel on the Continent is helping competitors to take their business.

Meanwhile, a 15-mile stretch of the M5 in north Gloucestershire was shut after a lorry hit a bridge near Tewkesbury, killing the driver.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?