25/05/2004

RMT and Network Rail agree to 'preliminary talks'

Preliminary talks aimed at resolving a dispute between the Rail, Maritime & Transport (RMT) union and Network Rail are set to take place on Friday.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said that if these preliminary talks proved successful, in-depth negotiations would be able to commence next week. Mr Crow said that the union was ready to enter into "serious negotiations" at any time.

The RMT is seeking action over what it views as the imposition of an inferior pension scheme, and Network Rail's refusal to talk about two-tier conditions or to enter into further discussions over pay.

On May 20, RMT members voted in favour of industrial action with 2,947 members (58%) pro-industrial action, and 2,246 (42%) against – the turn out for the vote was 68%.

Network Rail expressed its "disappointment" at the vote, and said that any potential strike would be "deeply damaging to both passengers and the country as a whole".

The company also said that the size of the RMT vote was far from representative of the majority of Network Rail staff.

Network Rail said that it would endeavour to run as many train services as possible during any strike, although plans cannot be finalised or released until closer to the day of any potential strike action in order to gauge the numbers of key staff available.

(gmcg)

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