Network Rail hits out over strike


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The Independent Online

Resolving a dispute that could see train services disrupted over the Christmas period was made "impossible" by the stance of the RMT union, Network Rail claimed tonight.

Union members at the West of Scotland signalling centre in Glasgow have announced plans to strike from 6am tomorrow.

The 72-hour walkout is over a row about career progression.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union claims Network Rail managers have ripped up long-standing arrangements under which staff were "slotted" into a post when it became vacant.

It said the arrangement had been in place for more than 30 years.

Network Rail said the union wanted a signaller removed from his post before it would negotiate.

The union has not sought a negotiated settlement on the matter and has refused to consider any alternative solutions during the talks held this week, Network Rail said.

A spokesman said: "We have made every effort to avoid a strike, but the union's stance - that we must remove a signaller from his post before they will negotiate - has made it impossible to reach a resolution."

Managers and non-unionised staff are expected to replace striking signallers and 95% of services are said to be unaffected.

Cross-border travel will be unaffected, but services on some local routes from Glasgow Central will be disrupted on Christmas Eve.

The strike will have no impact on the Boxing Day timetable which has already been published.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We're confident we will run a comprehensive service for passengers. More than 95% of services across Scotland will run as timetabled and even in Glasgow, every station served by Glasgow Central trains will receive a service. Only a small number of local services have been reduced."

The RMT confirmed last week that members based at the West of Scotland signalling centre will stage a three-day strike from 5.59am tomorrow, lasting until 5.58am on Tuesday.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "RMT has tried to reach a negotiated settlement to this unilateral ripping-up of a local arrangement but unfortunately the management have refused to see sense and RMT members will not stand by while management tear up agreements and practices that have been in place at local level for decades.

"As a consequence of management's intransigence, we have no option but to go ahead with this strike action. RMT members are furious at this refusal to comply with a local arrangement that offers genuine career progression opportunities.

"RMT remains available for talks at any time aimed at resolving this dispute."

The company said the dispute only affected 32 staff based at the West of Scotland centre but the union said it involved over 50 of its members.

ScotRail said some services running to and from Glasgow Central will be withdrawn or less frequent as a result of the strike.

A spokeswoman said: "This action is beyond the control of ScotRail and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

"We have published a summary on our website and put up posters at stations. Everyone should check their journey before they set out, in particular noting their last train home."