Effective pay cuts and continued downgrading and job losses – rail union insider reveals grim reality of offer being put to a vote among RMT members
Written by an RMT official and published on condition of anonymity.
Rail workers should vote down the pay offer.
Why should we vote No? The reasons are clear. A 5% pay rise for the year 22/23 is a pay cut in real terms; we had no pay settlement in 2021-22 at all. Rail workers were sent out during Covid, with little protection, to keep the country running. Some of us died. We barely received so much as a ‘Thank You’, let alone any financial remuneration for the risks we ran, or the effort we put in to keep the nation moving.
For the last year UK inflation has been at 10%+ for seven months out of twelve. This offer is derisory and should have been rejected out of hand. A settlement of at least 15% is needed just to keep members where they were in 2021.
A worse offer than was already on the table
The RDG [Rail Delivery Group of train operators], directed by the government for political expediency, have been forced to remove their destructive Workplace Reform proposals from the table. Their previous offer of 5% up front and 4% to negotiate those proposals has been fulfilled by the union side, yet this offer is even worse than that. Indeed it is significantly less than other public sector workers who have received settlements of up to 7% this year – but also had raises in 2021 and 2022 which we have been denied.
Despite the resounding rejection of government proposals by Travelwatch and Transport Focus, Workplace Reform remains on the table. The ‘no compulsory redundancy’ guarantees to December 2024 are so short as to be less of a promise and more of a threat.
The intention clearly is to return to cutting 30% of Station grades staff, one way or another. This cannot be acceptable to us. The opportunity to close ticket offices entirely may have gone, but they will be hollowed out and the reduction in quality of service that they provide will then be used as a reason for closure at some point in the future. Other station grades will be de-skilled and only some individuals selected for multiskilling – and their numbers worse than decimated too. Members’ Terms & Conditions and their pensions and benefits are under attack from this process.
Too much haste; dangerous proposals
The timescale is unduly hasty, too: TOCs’ [train operating companies] plans given to the unions in July would have shamed a plan sketched on the back of a fag packet after closing time and would have seen an increase in single staffing in all stations, to a critical level detrimental to the service and the safe operation of the railway.
If members vote yes then they are voting for 2023/ 24 pay to be based on the Workplace Reform proposals that the employers want. This will result in significant job losses of 30% across all station grades. Although none of it has been agreed the principle will be considered agreed by the votes in favour of the offer. Detail will be added later, guaranteed to be a disaster for members.
The 2023/24 pay offer will not be made unless Grades Councils agree to the employers’ demands. A big question members should ask themselves before they vote is, who in the RMT is negotiating for you with your TOC? This will be at Council level, not National. What skills and proven results do they have?
Any TOC going into dispute over 2023 /2024 pay will be on their own. This division is not in our favour. Acceptance will mean the National dispute is over, regardless of the mandate delivered by members in the recent re-ballot. The promise of back pay has been used to distract members from the negatives; a few pounds in the hand before Christmas used to blindside members.
The RDG offer will end the current dispute if we accept it. Rail workers currently have an extremely strong negotiating position. We are six weeks from Christmas and have a six-month mandate for industrial action. Returning an emphatic ‘No’ vote would strengthen this position as we would be able to return to the RDG and demand a significant improvement to the offer on the table.
If you’ve already voted to accept, you can change your vote
Members can change their vote even if they have already voted, right up until the closing date, by following the link in the original email they were sent.
Please lobby all your members.
Skwawkbox understands that the deal being put to a member vote by the RMT would still involve major redundancies among ticket office staff – but that rail reps have been pleasantly surprised by the negative reaction to the offer among grassroots members.
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