Second union ballots Network Rail members over strike action | railway industry

A second rail union is balloting Network Rail members for industrial action, in a move that could stop train services entirely in a coordinated strike this summer.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) union announced that its 6,000 members, in managerial and control roles for railway infrastructure, will vote later this month on whether to strike.

The staff are responsible for safety critical roles including managing the power supply and signaling operations. They would also provide most of the contingency workforce when signalers in the RMT go on strike.

The ballot will close on 11 July with strikes possible by the end of the month.

The TSSA has already opened ballots on four train operating companies – Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway and West Midlands Trains – which serve Birmingham, potentially disrupting services to the host city during the Commonwealth Games.

The union is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies this year, and a pay increase reflecting inflation after freezes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The general secretary, Manuel Cortes, said: “Network Rail staff are asking for basic fair treatment: not to be sacked from their jobs; a fair pay rise in the face of a cost-of-living crisis; and do not race to the bottom on terms and conditions.

“Our members have had enough. Make no mistake, we are preparing for all options, including coordinated strike action.”

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Cortes criticized “hollow words” from ministers who he said had urged direct talks with government but refused to meet. He added: “They have also floated the crazy plan to bring in temporary workers during industrial action, something which would seriously endanger safety on our railways.”

Strikes next week by Network Rail and train operating staff in the RMT union are expected to bring much of the railway to a halt, with only skeleton services running on mainlines and in urban areas. A detailed time table for the week is expected on Wednesday.

The three official strike days are Tuesday 21 June, Thursday 23 June and Saturday 25 June but disruption is expected to last throughout the week. A tube strike will also take place in London on 21 June.

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