Rail workers’ union withdraws ballot over ‘bad faith’ changes to offer

·2-min read
Union leader Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)
Union leader Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA union (Nick Ansell/PA) (PA Archive)

A railway workers’ union has withdrawn a ballot it planned to put to its members at Network Rail after claiming “bad faith” by the company and the Department for Transport.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said the substance of a proposed deal had been changed.

The ballot was announced following last-ditch negotiations aimed at avoiding a strike by TSSA members over jobs, pay and conditions.

The union said on Friday it has withdrawn the referendum after Network Rail tabled proposed new changes to terms and conditions for maintenance grades at a meeting on Thursday.

We can't negotiate in good faith if Network Rail keep shifting the goalposts

Manuel Cortes, TSSA

The union said the changes would have a “significant adverse impact” on members’ working conditions.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We presented our members with details of a pay offer, in good faith so they could let us know what they thought of it.

“The offer was presented to our members as we understood it at the time. We did not offer any comment for or against it.

“Network Rail then went on to present to us yesterday something that was significantly different to what we understood their offer to be.

“We can’t negotiate in good faith if Network Rail keep shifting the goalposts. How can our members accept an offer that has been changed after the fact?

“We have no option but to withdraw our referendum ballot on the offer until we are assured that there will be no more interference from the government, and that Network Rail won’t again unilaterally change the deal on offer.

“We remain committed to the principle of giving our members a say and are always available for further talks with Network Rail to hopefully achieve a negotiated settlement to our dispute.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Giving our people a say on pay is the right thing to do so of course we will work with the TSSA to give them the reassurances and clarity they’re after.

“We haven’t changed anything but understand how misunderstandings can happen. We hope that they will restart the process to give their members a voice and a choice in the days ahead.”

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