Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rail Strike Threat over Row

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rail Strike Threat over Row

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Kelly Reporter

THE first post general election clash between the newly elected Tory government and the trade unions could take place as early as this month.

Network Rail workers belonging to the Rail, Maritime and Transport union have voted in favour of a UKwide strike in a row over pay.

If the matter isn't resolved it could lead to the first national rail strike in 21 years, causing massive disruption to millions of commuters, including those in this region.

Having rejected pay offers from Network Rail bosses, 80% of members voted to strike from a turnout of 60%.

Union chiefs turned down the offer of a one-off PS500 payment to staff and three years of rises in line with inflation.

A no-compulsory-redundancy commitment extended to the end of 2016 was also in the proposed Network Rail deal was rejected by the union.

AN RMT spokesman said: "The vote has given us a mandate. We're hoping Network Rail will see sense and get round the negotiating table again."

Although no date has been set there are suggestions it could take place around the weekend of May 23 and 24 and include Bank Holiday Monday on May 25.

That is the day of the Championship play off final takes place at Wembley in which Middlesbrough could be taking part - if they overcome Brentford.

And on May 27 the Queen's Speech is given in parliament which sets out the government's proposed legislative programme for the year ahead. This will include what newly appointed Business Secretary Sajid Javid has described as "significant changes" to strike laws.

They are expected to say industrial action affecting essential public services like transport will need the backing of 40% of eligible union members. Currently it just has to be backed by a majority of those balloted.

There will also need to be a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots. …

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