ENGINEERS who maintain and repair Britain’s rail network are to ballot on strike action over pay, their union said yesterday.
The 250 engineers work for Network Rail, an “arm’s length” company wholly owned by the government.
Their union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), said the strike ballot would be carried out “in the next few weeks” and that if the engineers back industrial action there could be disruption on the rail network by the end of August.
The dispute is over payments to the engineers for being on call and on standby in case they are needed in the event of incidents.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Our members do a very important job, often attending incidents in the middle of the night, but they do not receive the proper reward for their professionalism.
“Their importance to keeping the network running 24/7 is huge and we want some recognition for that from management.
“We hope that last-ditch talks this week may still resolve the issue. But if they don’t, a dispute looks inevitable with all the disruption that will follow.”
A Network Rail spokesman said it was “hugely disappointing” that the engineers had not accepted a proposed deal on the standby payments, and urged TSSA to continue with discussions.
“We have worked closely with the TSSA in recent months to come to an agreement which provides clarity on our on-call arrangements and is affordable to Network Rail as a publicly funded company,” said the spokesman.