You are:


Return to news listings

Big steps forward for equal pay

25 June 2013

Management grade members at Network Rail joined company bosses, MPs and senior executives at other rail firms for a recent House of Commons reception to celebrate the progress made towards winning equal pay for equal work at Network Rail.


Talks with the firm are progressing, albeit slowly, towards a new pay and grading system for management grades. This work is not focussed on the actual rate of pay at this time, but the pay structure: how jobs are graded, how you decide which jobs are worth more than others and the principles that govern pay progression.

This was made possible by the courage of 36 TSSA members who launched employment tribunal claims for equal pay, with Network Rail sensibly agreeing to meet TSSA around the negotiating table rather than in court.

Beyond the pleasantries at the reception, the message from general secretary Manuel Cortes to the other rail employers who attended was clear: our preferred way of dealing with equal pay is joint working, however we are quite prepared to use the legal route to force progress in their companies. They heard the positive message from Network Rail that working with us to develop a fair pay system was also their much preferred option. The direct result of this is that we are now discussing joint working in a number of other railway companies.

Networ Rail talks
There are of course many employers in the Railway who have not yet engaged with TSSA. We will continue to seek their cooperation.
Despite the plodding nature of progress TSSA welcomes Network Rail’s commitment that any new pay and grading system must be fully compliant with legal requirements. Of course we have to ensure that commitment is delivered in practice and we are aware that there will be plenty of pressure on Network Rail with regards to the costs of moving from an unfair to a fair pay system.

This is a complex piece of work. It needs members to be involved at every level to ensure the new scheme is fit for purpose. Whether that means reviewing existing job descriptions, or exploring whether some jobs with the same job description should in fact be two separate roles, neither TSSA’s nor Network Rail’s negotiators will have the detailed knowledge that our members actually have.

Network Rail has agreed all TSSA reps will be allowed three days’ release for training in job evaluation and its relationship to a pay and grading system. This is a positive sign that the company does, indeed, intend to adopt a pay system based in equality principles.
The specially designed courses will be delivered in July and August. Reps can contact their regional organisers to book a place.

Winning across the industry
Equal pay legislation has been law in this country for over 40 years yet there are still grossly unfair and discriminatory pay structures in place. Traditionally, many employers have put equal pay in the ‘too difficult’ box and have simply responded as and when individual women (and it is predominantly women) take claims for unequal pay,

However, with the advances in technology, it is now relatively easy for TSSA to survey members in companies where we think there are equal pay issues and with the evidence we can launch significant numbers of cases, likely to be very expensive for the employer. Where employers refuse to engage with us, we will systematically explore their pay structures and support our members to launch claims. The effect of this is that ‘doing nothing’ for the targeted companies will no longer be a viable option. In short our message to the industry is talk to us now and let’s make a start in making the railways an equal pay sector.


Return to news listings