Railtrack polls signal workers over pay offer

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The Independent Online
HOPES were still alive last night that negotiations would be convened to end the seven-week railway signal workers' dispute as management conducted a poll among employees about its pay offer.

The Mori survey comes at a delicate time for the 'talks about talks' in which the conciliation service Acas is attempting to navigate between the two sides. Well-placed sources last night predicted that a formal session was unlikely today, which means that three full days will have elapsed since the protagonists declared their intention to go back to Acas. Today, however, pressure could mount on the warring parties to return to negotiations over the weekend.

Some Rail, Maritime and Transport officials expressed concern that the poll was by- passing the union, but others declared their confidence that signal workers would continue to register their rejection of management's productivity package. The result is due next week.

Railtrack said that the poll of up to 500 signal workers was complementary to the 'hearts-and-minds' campaign already completed. Senior officials from Acas ferried between both sides last night in the wake of the first 48-hour strike, which ended at lunchtime yesterday. The network has previously been disrupted by six mid-week day- long stoppages.