Railtrack and strike union resume negotiations

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The Independent Online
TALKS aimed at ending the three-month rail dispute begin today after both sides indicated their readiness to get back to negotiations, writes Barrie Clement.

After a day of shuttle diplomacy, officials of the conciliation service Acas received assurances from both sides that they would talk.

If the protagonists are serious about negotiations, the sessions at Acas could last well into next week. Today's contact follows the RMT transport union's acceptance of parallel discussions on management's offer and signal workers' claims. Hitherto, the union has insisted on discussing its demand for an 'interim' payment before negotiating on efficiency measures and a grading structure.

The RMT yesterday said it had held a 'very constructive' meeting with Acas. A Railtrack spokeswoman said: 'We are prepared to talk about anything and everything.' Leaders of the RMT have called a 24-hour strike beginning at midnight tomorrow, followed by a 48-hour stoppage on Thursday and Friday next week.

British Rail yesterday announced that it would again be able to extend its strike-day services. On Friday for the first time since the strikes began, sleeper services will run between London Euston, Glasgow and Edinburgh.