Rail workers are to stage a series of one day strikes starting next Friday after rail union RMT rejected a £2,500 per head pay rise.
Network Rail chief executive John Armitt said he was 'extremely disappointed' by the RMT's decision.'We are now facing a rail strike that will cause disruption for millions of people. 'We are striving for a railway that is affordable to passengers and offers value for money to the British taxpayer. We urge the RMT to accept that we have offered the best deal we can and that this is the end of the line for negotiations,' he said.Network Rail has been making robust contingency plans to deal with the effects of a strike. 'Sadly, we must now ask people to prepare for industrial action. On strike days we will do our best to run as many services as possible. Over the coming days we will work with train operating companies to put in place a strike timetable and we will make this available as soon as possible.' The first 24-hour stoppage will take place on Friday 21 July, starting at noon. The second stoppage for 48 hours will take place from noon on Thursday 27 July until noon Saturday 29 July. Network Rail has been negotiating with the trades unions on this pay settlement since 13 February 2006. A settlement was agreed with the RMT's executive on 14 June, which included a rise of 3.2% backdated to April 2006, a rise of 0.75% above inflation from April 2007, earlier introduction of a 35-hour working week, a significant increase in travel subsides and an increase in London allowances. The deal was hailed by the RMT as 'one of the best in the industry' and one they would recommend to their members. However, 55.7% of RMT members voted to reject the offer.Further talks have taken place this week, but have ended without agreement.