Is Mick the Grinch’s Christmas stranglehold slipping? Network Rail union members accept pay offer


The united front on strike action by thousands of rail workers buckled today as members of a major trade union accepted a bumper pay offer from bosses.

Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) at Network Rail voted overwhelmingly to accept a deal worth up to 11 per cent for some lower paid staff.

Some 85 per cent of its 2,500 members on a 70 per cent turn-out voted to accept the deal, which also hands them an immunity from compulsory job losses for two years.

The TSSA is still in dispute with train operators over pay, jobs and conditions, with 700 staff at West Midlands Trains (WMT) and Great Western Railway (GWR) due to down tools on Wednesday December 28.

But the breakthrough suggests that support for the walkouts is beginning to weaken. 

The move exposes the militant RMT union, led by Mick Lynch, which continues to refuse a deal similar to that accepted by the TSSA members. On Friday, thousands of members at Network Rail and 14 train companies will begin the second of two 48-hour strikes this week as the industrial dispute continues.

Union figures obtained by the Telegraph revealing that fewer than 10,000 out of 115,000 RMT members blocked a 9 per cent pay offer from Network Rail. 

TSSA members work as customer service managers, driver managers and trainers, and in control, customer communications, safety, timetabling and planning. 

The union’s organising director Luke Chester said: ‘This is a decisive result, with our members roundly endorsing this offer. It’s great news and a great deal for our members in Network Rail. 

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, at a picket line at London Euston station on July 27

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, at a picket line at London Euston station on July 27

Support for rail strikes is dropping – and strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI

RMT union boss Mick Lynch (pictured left) with an union official on a picket line outside Euston train station on the second day of rail strikes

RMT union boss Mick Lynch (pictured left) with an union official on a picket line outside Euston train station on the second day of rail strikes

Civil service morale nosedives after year of political turmoil 

More than one-fifth of civil servants want to leave their jobs within the next 12 months amid collapsing morale in a year of political turmoil, it has emerged.

The annual civil service people survey has revealed deep unhappiness with pay and benefits, as well as a lack of confidence among staff in their bosses.

It also showed an apparent drop in motivation over a period when civil servants have faced a constant churn of new ministers and a fresh wave of spending cuts.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the head of the civil service, this week wrote to civil servants to admit the survey scores were ‘heading in the wrong direction’.

He promised staff ‘you have been heard’, but warned there may not be ‘immediate solutions’.

The annual survey of 350,000 civil servants, the results of which have been seen by The Times, showed that less than half of staff have confidence in their senior leaders.

And just 22 per cent thought the civil service was changing for the better.

Both of these scores saw double-digit falls from last year’s survey results.

Meanwhile, 7 per cent of staff said they wanted to leave ‘as soon as possible’ and a further 15 per cent said they wanted to leave within the next year.

Less than one-third (28 per cent) were satisfied with their pay and benefits, down 11 points from last year.

The survey also revealed an 11-point fall in the percentage of staff saying they are proud of their organisation, while there was a 13-point fall in those saying their department inspires them to do the best job.

The number of civil servants saying that their organisation motivated them to achieve its objectives also fell 13 points to 42 per cent.

The Government has ordered Whitehall departments to restrict pay rises to 3 per cent, although 1 per cent of that is dependent on employers making the case it is needed for recruitment and retention.

Latest inflation figures released yesterday showed the CPI rate remained above 10 per cent in November.

He added: ‘The result is a fair pay settlement amounting to at least a 9 per cent increase for this year and next – at least 11 per cent for those on lower salaries – plus job security and the nailing down of our terms and conditions.

‘This could and should have been done months ago, but we are pleased with the result.

‘However, the deal in Network Rail is significantly better than anything which has been proposed by the train operating companies and our fight goes on there, with members continuing to take industrial action.

‘If the rail companies and the Government have any sense, they will now stop blocking the perfectly reasonable pathway to a deal and come back to the table with an improved offer which meets our aspirations.’

The TSSA said the deal accepted by its members includes a no compulsory redundancy agreement until January 31 2025, and a minimum pay rise of at least £1,750 or 5 per cent (whichever is greater) backdated to January 1 2022, which it said is worth at least 7 per cent to staff earning £25,000 or less.

There will also be a 4 per cent pay increase from January 1 2023, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, plus more benefits and improvements to work and leisure travel facilities.

Two new polls show that public support for rail strikes has dropped to 30 per cent  from 43 per cent in September. Strong opposition is on the up, according to pollsters Ipsos MORI, from 31 per cent in September to 36 per cent now.

Mr Lynch announced a ban on overtime working as part of this winter’s industrial action, and it is understood this led to a backlash from some members as they lost a lucrative option for clawing back earnings lost to strike days. This means rail workers may miss out on up to £5,000 in earnings. 

The RMT rejected the offer within hours of receiving it earlier this month, stating it was conditional on accepting vast changes to working practices, huge job losses, driver-only operated trains on all companies and the closure of ticket offices. 

It came as it was confirmed a strike by ground handlers at Heathrow airport is to go ahead on Friday after workers rejected a pay offer.

Around 400 members of Unite employed by private contractors Menzies will walk out for 72 hours from 4am.

This will be followed by a further 72-hour strike beginning on Thursday December 29 and ending at 03:59 on Sunday January 1.

Meanwhile the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union said strikes are being added at the Department of Work and Pensions, in courts and by driving examiners.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: ‘This is a classic case of an employer that can fully afford to pay workers a fair pay increase but has chosen not to.

‘Menzies needs to stop making excuses and make a pay offer that meets our members’ expectations.’

Menzies staff’s post-Christmas stoppage will coincide with a planned walkout by Border Force Staff. 

PCS said some of its members at DVSA will join the action on December 28 to 31 , while others will join in on strikes from January 4 to 10.

Jobcentre workers in Doncaster will strike on December 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31, joining colleagues on strike in the same building and those at Jobcentres in Liverpool.

In a separate dispute, 300 PCS members working as legal advisers and court associates in 82 courts across England and Wales will take 12 days’ strike action over Christmas.

In another row, 82 PCS members employed by Hinduja Global Services on the Disclosure and Barring Service contract in Liverpool are back on strike until December 23.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘We’re delivering on our promise to escalate our action and we shall not cease for as long as the Government continues to expect our hard-working members to get through the winter with just a 2% pay rise.

‘If ministers can shift their position on wind turbines and building houses because some Tory backbenchers aren’t happy, they can shift their position on in-work poverty.’ 

Who is striking over Christmas and when is it happening?

Rail

· RMT rail workers will walk out on Dec  14, 16, 17, 24 until 27 and Jan 3, 4, 6, 7

· Walkouts expected to also impact timetable on non-strike days

· Union rejected 8% pay rise offer

NHS & Ambulance workers

· NHS workers will strike on Dec 15 and 20

· Unison, Unite and GMB will stage ambulance worker walkout on Dec 21. GMB will strike again on Dec 28

· Nurses demanding 19 per cent pay increase

Bus strikes

· 1,000 TfL workers will walkout on Dec 16, 17, 24, 27, 31 and Jan 4, 5

· The action will have biggest impact in south and west London on 59 routes

· Unite called off further action after new pay deal agreed

Eurostar

· Security staff will walkout on December 16, 18, 22 and 23

· RMT warned strike would ‘severely affect’ passengers

· Eurostar said it would update affected customers

Border Force

· 1,000 PCS union members will walk out from Dec 23 to 26 and Dec 28 to 31

· Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff and Glasgow will be hit

· Number equivalent to three in four frontline staff

 



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