Diligent negotiator in spotlight

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The Independent Online
HAVING toiled in diligent obscurity for most of his career, Vernon Hince, the 54- year-old senior assistant general secretary of the RMT transport union and chief union negotiator at Railtrack, has been thrown into the spotlight by the dispute, writes Barrie Clement.

Born in Tamworth in the West Midlands, Mr Hince worked for British Rail as a technician in the signals and telecommunications department where he built up a working knowledge of the functions of signal box staff. But he has been somewhat non-plussed by the dispute.

He was under the impression a fortnight ago that Railtrack was offering a 5.7 per cent increase in compensation for past improvements in productivity. Since then the Government has made it clear that any offer should honour the strict limits on public-sector pay and the package was withdrawn.

'It's clear I'm not negotiating with Railtrack any more, but the Government. It is completely different from anything else I have experienced in industrial relations.'

He is known by managers as a straightforward negotiator. If there is one criticism it is that he is not always prepared to take on a troublesome executive. The problem in this dispute is that the horse-trading that goes on away from the negotiating table is simply not happening.