July 9, 2015



Circular No IR/162/15


8th July 2015




Dear Colleagues,




Further to my previous circular IR/153/15, 24th June 2015, Branches will be aware that after many months in dispute, the latest offer from Network Rail has been accepted by members in a referendum. This dispute was ongoing for over 6 months and has demonstrated what can be achieved when members stand firm and are prepared to take strike action to fight for a fair deal on jobs and pay. This was the first national dispute since the Signallers’ strike in 1994 and the only time since privatisation where Operations and Maintenance staff have had their pay negotiated at the same time. For the benefit of branches I will summarise how we reached the final accepted agreement.


At our very first pay meeting towards the end of 2014, management stated from the outset that any increase for 2015 would have to be self-funded, i.e. members would have to sell terms and conditions in order to get anything at all. On top of that they offered the inferior CPI Inflation for the next three years and most importantly refused to extend their No Compulsory Redundancy Agreement which ran out at the end of 2014.


After we rejected any sort of productivity strings, Network Rail offered no increase whatsoever for 2015 and RPI for the next three years. Members massively rejected this offer by 95% in a referendum, so we entered into dispute and a ballot was called for strike action and action short of a strike. Members voted by a massive 80% in favour of strike action with a 60% turnout of all members, smashing the Government’s planned thresholds for union ballots.


Strike action was called for the end of May with a 24 hour strike and an overtime, additional hours and callouts ban put in place. Network Rail, under the extreme pressure from RMT members, who were rock solid in their support of the planned action, tabled a new proposal which resulted in the action being suspended. This offer was for a £500 one off lump sum for 2015, RPI for the next three years and a no compulsory Redundancy guarantee until the end of 2016.  Following consultation with Area Council representatives the overwhelming view was that this offer was still not good enough so the proposal was rejected.


The GGC then called industrial action including a 24 hour and a 48 hour strike as well as an overtime, additional hours and callouts ban for the beginning of June.  Once again the resolve of our Network Rail members was incredible and management were left in no doubt there would a total shutdown of the network if they didn’t come back with a major improvement. Talks held at ACAS resulted in an improved two year offer which was subsequently accepted by members in a referendum.  The full details of the agreement is as outlined below: –




2015 – A 2% consolidated increase in basic rates of pay backdated to 1st January 2015.


2016 – A consolidated increase equal to November 2015 RPI with effect from 1st January 2016.




No compulsory redundancies for those members covered by this pay claim until 31st December 2016.


Job Security


Network Rail and the Trades Unions will enter into discussion to agree a comprehensive job security package working within the principles of PTR&R, which includes:


Voluntary Severance (VS)

Extending VS to those not affected but who want to go, via “bumping”

Publication of a national Network Rail vacancy list



Trial-period opportunities


Efficiency and Improvement Project (Completely separate from pay discussions)


Separate to the pay proposals, under the auspices of ACAS, discussions will be held with  Network Rail as part of an Efficiency and Improvement Project to deliver savings.


This will not affect members’ terms and conditions and these discussions have not held up the pay award. The General Grades Committee will consider any formal proposals that emerge and the affected members would be fully consulted in the normal way.


The issues proposed for discussion are as follows: –


  • Safe and efficient working practices and processes which identify methods to drive down incidents and accidents.
  • Examine opportunities to reduce labour-only, agency, sub-contract supplier and consultancy costs.
  • Joint review to create opportunities in our maintenance, operations and controllers teams to enable enhanced efficiency and improvements.
  • Develop a forum between Network Rail and RMT, TSSA and Unite as appropriate, to examine options for reducing waste from the business to enable further efficiencies to be made.
  • Creating single ‘point care’ teams.
  • Cross boundary working for response teams within Route for incidents and disruption.
  • Develop technology for placing of detonators and PLBs thus releasing staff for other work.
  • Train and deploy resident signallers to work adjacent mechanical signal boxes on a voluntary basis for an agreed premium.


Final proposals on implementation plans for any agreed changes would be delivered by 30th November 2015.


The above agreement means members get two years of consolidated pay increases and a two year no compulsory redundancy guarantee. When you consider that at the start Network Rail were adamant that members would have to sell off terms and conditions in order to get a pay rise and refused to guarantee no redundancies, the solidarity of members and their support for the negotiating team clearly forced Network Rail to radically alter their position.  At a time of major cost cutting and real uncertainty for members over jobs, this deal is a major achievement and I congratulate our Network Rail members for making this possible.


Talks will begin in the near future to discuss the Efficiency and Improvement Project under the auspices of ACAS.  Branches will be kept fully informed of any proposals that arise from this project.


Yours sincerely

Mick Cash

General Secretary



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