Rail companies have closed door on negotiated pensions settlement, unions warn

31 March 2006

RAIL UNIONS have warned that government and many rail companies have “closed the door” on talks to resolve the pensions crisis in the industry.


RMT, ASLEF, TSSA and CSEU are campaigning jointly for a pensions deal that will keep contributions at a reasonable level, maintain benefits, keep schemes open to new members and streamline the proliferation of sections within the Railways Pension Scheme created by the fragmentation of privatisation.


They have warned that failure to resolve the dispute before pension-fund rules trigger massive contribution hikes from July 1 will result in co-ordinated ballots for industrial action across the industry.


However, rail industry bosses continue to refuse to meet with unions to negotiate over the issue and government has done little or nothing to intervene.


ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman said: “The resolve of ordinary rail union members has been evident at the public meetings we have addressed over the last couple of weeks. The government has a critical role to play in this issue which is so important to rail workers’ income and their futures. We elected this government – now it is time for them to treat our members with the respect they deserve.”


“A failure by government and many companies to talk to the trade unions means that the door to a negotiated settlement has been left firmly shut,” said RMT general secretary Bob Crow.


“Should rail industry unions press ahead with industrial action over the issue this spring and summer, then there is no reason why strikes should not coincide with that of public sector workers, who this week led the way in defence of their pensions.”


TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said: “Nobody should be in any doubt that we mean business. The fantastic response to our joint campaign from all around the country underlines the determination among members to see action taken to protect their pensions.”


Keith Norman, Bob Crow and Gerry Doherty have spoken jointly at packed public meetings in Cardiff, York, Edinburgh and Glasgow this month. Further meetings are to take place at Birmingham (April 3), Bristol (April 5) Perth (April 11), Manchester (April 19) and London (April 20).



Further information:

Chris Proctor 07714 504410

Carmel McHenry 020 7529 8055 or 07834 866854

Chris Kasrils 020 7529 8880

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