Strike threat to train services

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The Independent Online

The threat of disruption across the railway network grew today when Britain's second largest rail union began a strike ballot among workers at Network Rail.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association is urging 7,000 staff, including supervisors and station mangers, to back industrial action over claims that the company was planning to introduce a "two-tier" pension scheme.

The ballot, which closes on 23 March, follows last week's decision by the Rail Maritime and Transport union to call strike ballots at four rail companies - National Express East Anglia, South West Trains, First Capital Connect and London Overground.

The TSSA warned that if a strike goes ahead, it would cause "widespread disruption" to rail services.

General secretary Gerry Doherty said: "Network Rail is effectively trying to introduce a two-tier pension scheme.

"They are asking older staff who used to be with British Rail to pay more to ensure that their present final salary scheme continues.

"But new recruits are banned from the scheme for five years and are then being offered inferior benefits to long-serving staff.

"It is unfair and we will not accept it."

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We will continue to talk to the TSSA to try to avert a strike.

"The contingency plans we have in place will mean that train services will not be affected if a strike goes ahead."

The RMT ballots are over job cuts and industrial relations.