Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Unions Threaten a National Rail Strike; BACKING FOR BALLOT IN TRACK MAINTENANCE DISPUTE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Unions Threaten a National Rail Strike; BACKING FOR BALLOT IN TRACK MAINTENANCE DISPUTE

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

RAIL union leaders today overwhelmingly backed a ballot for a national strike over track maintenance.

The move brought much closer the threat of a nationwide stoppage in a rapidly escalating dispute.

Bob Crow, leader of the largest rail union, the RMT, warned that there would be " overwhelming support" for a strike should the ballot be conducted among 18,000 of its members, who include signal workers with the power to halt the network.

The staff work for Network Rail, which last year stripped the private-sector maintenance companies of their lucrative contracts.

This followed a series of disasters - including the Hatfield derailment of October 2000, in which four people died, and the Potters Bar crash of May 2002, which killed four - which had been blamed on poor maintenance procedures.

Now, according to the RMT, meeting at Exeter for its annual conference, rail chiefs are discussing plans to give a private-sector passenger operator in Liverpool control of both trains and tracks. …

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