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Rail boss bonuses 'unjustified'

Network Rail has been accused of "burying bad news" by announcing details of executive bonuses as the glare of publicity is on local election results.

The company said its remuneration committee had decided to award "significantly" reduced bonuses of around £50,000 for each of five eligible directors.

The amount represents around 12.5% of salary, whereas the maximum possible was 60%, said NR.

"No bonus was earned for passenger train punctuality, where targets were not met. A 20% reduction was also made to reflect less progress on safety performance than was expected, despite good progress in reducing overall level crossing safety risk," said a statement.

Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association said: "These unjustified bonuses were agreed on Wednesday.. in London and cynically delayed until today so NR could 'bury the bad news' with the Ukip victory in the local elections.

"The cynicism of the PR is almost beyond belief."

The directors eligible for the annual bonus award are David Higgins, NR's former chief executive, who left the company earlier this year; Patrick Butcher, group finance director; Robin Gisby, managing director, network operations; Simon Kirby, the former managing director, infrastructure projects, who left last week; and Paul Plummer, group strategy director.

NR said: "The decision reflects mixed results on key performance objectives during the year, but recognises well-managed recovery from a winter of extreme weather."

Mick Cash, acting general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "It is important that there is a fair and decent pay and reward structure across Network Rail that recognises the hard work of all staff and not just an elite few.

"The bonus issue, and the way this news has been smuggled out under cover of a heavy news day, diverts attention from the savage cuts to the safety-critical staff out on the tracks who keep the services running.

"The biggest issue for RMT is the Government's austerity-driven cuts, which not only lead to cancellations and delays as maintenance and renewal works slip but which also jeopardise rail safety.

"The cuts to our rail infrastructure need to be dragged under the spotlight, not buried under the bonus story on one of the heaviest news days of the year."

The TSSA union accused NR of "breathtaking contempt" towards bereaved families of the victims of level crossing fatalities by awarding bonus payments.

The union said the £50,000 will be on top of a 40% long term bonus to be agreed next month giving bosses a combined bonus of 52.5%, worth over £200,000 each to five executives.

"This comes two months after the Commons Transport Select Committee called for zero bonuses to be paid this year because of the company's 'callous disregard' towards the families whose loved ones have died on unsafe level crossings over the past nine years," said the union.

Chris Bazlinton, whose daughter Olivia was killed in an accident on Elsenham level crossing in Essex in 2005, said: "I am appalled at the bonuses being paid to top executives by Network Rail. It seems senior executives at Network Rail have no shame."

An NR spokesman said: "The TSSA's claim is incorrect. There is no long-term bonus payment to be agreed next month."

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