Meetings to discuss strike plans
Government officials have met to discuss contingency plans for a possible national rail strike ahead of the result of ballots for action over pay.
The Press Association has learned that a meeting was held last Friday involving Whitehall departments including transport.
Ministers were not involved in the talks, held in the wake of the dramatic result of the general election, but they are being kept informed of developments.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union will announce tomorrow whether its members at Network Rail have backed a campaign of industrial action in protest at a four-year pay offer.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association is also balloting its members, with the result due over the next week.
The unions are protesting at a pay offer of £500 this year followed by rises matching RPI inflation over the next three years.
A no compulsory redundancy commitment will be extended to the end of 2016 as part of the proposed deal.
A strike by RMT and TSSA members at NR, including signallers, maintenance workers and admin staff, would cripple train services, it would also give the new Conservative government its first battle on the industrial relations front.
The unions would have to give seven days notice of any industrial action.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: " Our members have already decisively rejected the initial pay package offered by Network Rail.
"As far as we are concerned the one-off, non-consolidated, lump-sum payment this year is wholly inadequate and fails to recognise the massive pressures staff are working under to keep services running at a time when the company is generating profits of £1 billion.
"It is our members battling to keep Britain moving around the clock and they deserve a fair share from Network Rail for their incredible efforts.
"In addition, we are extremely concerned that the no compulsory redundancy commitment only applies to the first two years of the four-year deal.
"RMT is in no doubt that this leaves operations and maintenance members extremely vulnerable, especially with the continued development of Rail Operating Centres and the on-going cuts programme at Network Rail.
"Our rail staff deserve a fair reward for the high-pressure, safety-critical work that they undertake day and night and the last thing that we need is a demoralised, burnt-out workforce living in fear for their futures and the message has come back loud and clear that that is exactly how they feel about the current offer from Network Rail.
"RMT remains available for talks and we hope that the company will appreciate the anger amongst staff at the current offer on pay and conditions and that they will agree to our call to come back to the table with an improved package."
A Network Rail spokesman said: "Nobody wants a strike or any other form of industrial action. There is nothing to be gained. The impact on our 4.5 million daily passengers and to thousands of projects aimed at improving the railway would be significant and our staff would be hit in their pockets.
"We have great people doing a challenging job who are dedicated to making the railway better and who take pride in providing a decent service to millions, every day.
"A fair deal is on the table with the offer of a lump sum of £500 for everyone in 2015 and a pay increase for 2016, 2017 and 2018 that will match RPI inflation. In addition, we guarantee job security for the next two years."