Strikes on hold amid new pay offer
Planned strikes by Network Rail workers have been suspended after a new offer of a 2% pay rise this year.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union were due to walk out for 24 hours from 5pm on Thursday and for 48 hours next week after rejecting two proposed deals.
The breakthrough came after four days of talks at the conciliation service Acas.
The new offer is for a 2% rise this year, an increase in line with RPI inflation next year - based on November's figure - and an assurance of no compulsory redundancies to the end of next year.
RPI forecasts for November are currently around 1.5%.
A "comprehensive job security package" will be agreed between NR and the unions in the next six months, and an efficiency and improvement project will be launched.
The joint project, which will be held under the auspices of Acas, is aimed at delivering savings through areas such as sub-contracting.
RMT leaders decided that the offer was good enough to suspend the planned industrial action, which would have caused widespread disruption to rail services across the country.
The offer is still to be agreed by RMT reps, who will meet later this week to decide whether to call off the action.
An Acas spokesman said: "After four days of intensive talks, Acas has helped Network Rail, RMT, TSSA and Unite formulate a set of revised proposals that the trades unions will now take away to consider.
"Recognising this, the RMT has agreed to suspend the industrial action planned for this week and next."
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Following extensive Acas talks throughout the weekend RMT has now received a revised offer that enables us to suspend the planned industrial action while we consult in full on the details of the revised package with our Network Rail representatives."
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: "I am very pleased that the industrial action has been suspended. With Acas's help, we have had very constructive talks with the unions over the weekend and I hope they will be able to agree this deal."
The TSSA rail union said it would be considering the revised offer at a reps meeting on Thursday.
The offer will then probably go to a referndum of its 3,000 members at Network Rail.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This is clearly a positive step forward and I am pleased that the union has engaged with Network Rail in order to avoid a dispute. I hope that this deal will be now ratified by the union swiftly."