Network Rail is waging a concerted attack on its workforce.
The Government expects our gratitude for getting Network Rail to end contracting-out and bring infrastructure maintenance in-house. Even some union leaders have repeated the spin that this is some form of renationalisation. But the truth is that it falls well short of a genuine return to public ownership, and in no sense means that Network Rail is a 'good employer'.
Below are excerpts from a leaflet from RMT's South Wales & West Regional Council, giving details of the attacks, and proposing a fight against them.
NR Chairman Ian McAllister wants RMT members to pay for the mistakes of rail privatisation by:
- ending the 'final salary' pension scheme for new starters from 1 April 2004;
- making 600 compulsory redundancies in last year's reorganisation;
- seeking 700 plus redundancies after taking over infrastructure companies;
- victimising union rep Martin Wicks, Chair of RMT negotiating Council in NR Great Western Region and RMT clerical members' national rep. By threatening Martin with compulsory redundancy, NR is tearing up the national PT&R agreement that protects all staff.
With no new starters allowed to join the pensions scheme a dwindling number of contributors will sustain a growing number of pensioners. This will inevitably drive up our contributions. By 2005 we will already pay 9.5% of our salary into the pension scheme! An insolvent NR pension scheme will only have a minority of NR employees to defend it when the winding-up order comes. Keeping pension schemes safe and solvent means keeping them open to all.
The 'defined contribution' scheme for new staff proposed by NR is a glorified personal savings account. It only guarantees the amount you pay in, not the benefits you receive on retirement. Two-tier pension provision will lead to a weak and divided, two-tier workforce.
Currently Network Rail is refusing to call for volunteers for redundancy. If they did so there would be no need for compulsory redundancies. NR is using the current industry reorganisation to clear out those (including RMT members) who refused to sign new personal contracts.
If NR carries through its threat it will give the green light for other companies to follow suit.
RMT South Wales & West Regional Council last month called for a strike ballot of NR members in defence of our members' final salary pension scheme. RMT North East Regional Council and numerous branches have done likewise.
We call on RMT's Council of Executives to:
- Refuse to take part in discussions or working parties to discuss a 'defined contribution' scheme to replace Network Rail's final salary scheme
- Begin a campaign to stop the closure of the final salary scheme, culminating in a ballot of our members for industrial action based on the demand that Network Rail does not close the scheme for new starters, and that all its employees will be incorporated in the existing pension scheme.
- Campaign for final salary schemes in companies where none exist.