Network Rail’s refusal to pay bonuses to its employees after they went on strike for months in a dispute with management has angered the workforce.
Up to 20,000 RMT members are expected to be affected by the decision. They staged a number of walkouts in an eight-month standoff over pay and reform plans.
The dispute was resolved in March , when RMT members agreed to accept a 9% pay increase, with higher increases for lower-paid staff, linked to major reforms to working practices.
In a move which is likely to harm relations with the workforce Mick Lynch, RMT’s general secretary, told his members that Network Rail had refused to give a performance-based bonus to anyone taking part in strikes.
Lynch wrote an email that the decision to exclude unionists from bonus schemes is “disgraceful” and causes a lot of consternation for members.
Strikes have affected the performance of the company, so the bonus will be around £300. Workers have received payouts in the past of approximately £1,000.
Network Rail confirmed its decision, and stated that it had warned staff they would not be receiving a bonus should they go on strike. It added that the policy was also part of the bonus program’s conditions.
Network Rail stated that “our position has been made very clear – any discretionary payment will be focused on those who continue to support rail service during industrial action.”
David Hopper, partner at Lewis Silkin’s employment team, said that the state agency’s position was “against the current market practice.” He added: “Employers risk human rights complaints if they treat employees on strike worse than other colleagues.”
Eddie Dempsey said that the RMT assistant general secretary’s decision to not pay bonuses was poorly timed, as it soured relations right before the new round of negotiations over pay for 2024.
As of the end last week, 12,000 signatures had been collected on Organise, a platform online that allows workers and unions to coordinate collective action.
Roxana K. Williams, the head of Organise’s campaigns, stated that it appeared as if the decision to not pay bonuses was “a clear attempt to discourage workers from exercising their right to strike.”
She said: “It’s our collective hope that Network Rail rectifies the situation by giving bonuses to all employees without discrimination.”
The RMT is still locked in a long-running dispute with the train companies. It caused extensive disruption on Saturday when it struck at 14 operators. On Saturday, September 2, a further one-day walkout is planned.