For the first time in over 20-years a national rail strike is coming a stage closer after the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has announced they are to hold a ballot over a row with pensions.
The government and train companies have failed to provide any reassurances that there will be no undermining of the current pension agreements, the RMT said.
In a letter to Chris Grayling the transport secretary, the industry regulator the Rail Delivery Group and all employers the union made it clear should there be a move to impose future reductions over pensions the RMT will take the “necessary action.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said, “If it takes the first national rail strike in a generation to defend our members’ pensions, then so be it.
“We will not tolerate a position where Chris Grayling and the train companies are playing fast and loose with rail pension rights and RMT members will not be left to pay the price for the collapsing chaos of the rail franchising system.
“We have made it crystal clear that this union will resist any attack on our members’ future pension rights either as a result of Government policy or greedy employers wanting to prop up their profits within the failed private franchise model
“Any such attack will be met with a campaign of co-ordinated industrial action across the rail industry to defend pensions and in the absence of a satisfactory response from Government and the train operators, that is where we are now heading.”
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said, “The last thing passengers or rail workers want is the misery of a strike. It would be premature in the extreme for RMT to begin hugely disruptive industrial action when conversations about how to address the pension deficit are still going on.
“Having worked with unions, we have put forward to government a firm proposal to address this deficit in a way that is fair and sustainable for staff, taxpayers and operators, and we await government’s response.”