NETWORK RAIL chief executive John Armitt last week robustly defended his salary and bonuses before a committee of MPs, amid growing concern about the prospect of a national rail strike.
MPs expressed surprise that Armitt could earn a 60% bonus on top of his £468,000 annual salary when track and signalling workers were planning strike action after being offered little more than inflation pay rises.
'I don't think the industrial action is related to bonuses, ' Armitt told the Commons Public Accounts Committee.
He said that his impression from talking to Network Rail staff was that the strike was about pay, pensions and the removal of free travel perks.
Armitt pointed out that he was only able to draw the full 60% bonus if Network Rail met all its targets for the current year and the year ahead in a single 12 month period. He said he had not drawn his bonus this year because performance fell short.
'Our objective as a company is to pay the market rate compared with companies of a similar size, ' he told the committee.
Armitt also pointed out that Network Rail staff had picked up bonuses of around £600 on salary in the last year because they had met set targets.
Last Friday Network Rail held talks with signalling and maintenance workers' union RMT in an attempt to head off strike action.
More talks were scheduled for this week.