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Bands 1-4 Pay Dispute: What's Happening?

4 July 2011

The TSSA have spent the last few weeks doing two things: Trying to persuade Network Rail to return to the bargaining table, and preparing a ballot for industrial action. Meanwhile, Network Rail have spent the last few weeks refusing to negotiate over pay and preparing to implement their 'final offer'.

As members begin to receive their pay letters it seems that the majority of people awarded ‘good’ are receiving less than 2.5% (on the limited evidence we have the figure is closer to 1.5%!). Network Rail are seeking to pretend that as they have ‘implemented’ the pay offer the matter is now closed. Our view expressed firmly but politely is that the matter is not closed.

Why does it take so long to launch a ballot?

It is a fair question. Why does it take so long to double check our membership records? Well, the first reason is that it is very difficult to comply with the law on industrial action ballots. We have to tell the employer the numbers and categories of workers we are balloting and their workplaces. Even minor discrepancies can provide an employer with an opportunity to get a court order declaring the ballot unlawful. We have been checking our membership data, line by line. The difficulty is highlighted by the fact that even Network Rail probably do not have an accurate list of where everyone works, but we are expected to achieve a near perfect record. If you have received a request to update your records, either by email or post, please action it promptly.

Our pay survey and Network Rail’s response

Our survey of last year’s pay award indicated that there was widespread variance in the award given to people with the same performance, that there was a gender pay gap of £4,500, and that just 4% of those ranked as ‘outstanding’ beat inflation.

Network Rail has chosen to challenge some, but not all of those findings. According to Network Rail, the average increase for men was 1.9% and the average for women was 2.1%.

Network Rail neither accepts nor contradicts our finding that just 4% of outstanding performers beat inflation, but they assert that ‘only’ 8.5% of those graded outstanding got 2% or less. They also assert that only 7% of those ranked as ‘exceeded’ received 2% or less. This demonstrates exactly the point we made; that even those who ranked as outstanding cannot guarantee that their salary increase will beat inflation. They confirm that the average increase for those ranked good was just 1.5% - 0.5% less than the negotiated figure!

Network Rail neither accepts nor contradicts our finding of a gender pay gap of £4,500

Our survey indicated that band 4 managers were less likely to be high in their band if they have worked for the company for more than five years when compared with new-comers (those with less than five years service). Network Rail is silent on this, neither accepting nor contradicting the finding.

Next steps

The TSSA is working with an academic authority on gender pay at the University of London, they will be undertaking detailed statistical analysis of our survey (if you have not completed it, please do so now:

We are also speaking to a range of campaigning bodies to discuss how we can pressure Network Rail into accepting that it must comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty.

We anticipate that we will issue notice of ballot in approximately two weeks time (unless Network Rail agree to meaningful talks over pay).

Welcome aboard

We would like to welcome all the new members who have joined since the beginning of the pay dispute. We need you, and please feel free to find out how you can play a role in your union (email

Many thanks

A big thanks to those of our members who helped organise workplace meetings, who have distributed materials and who have begun to use our ‘fair pay’ mouse mats.

One last thing

If you know a colleague who is not yet in the union, now is the time to encourage them to join.

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