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Demanding fair pay and respect at work

25 July 2011

Last Thursday the TSSA opened its ballot for industrial action for bands 1 - 4. We are demanding fair pay and respect at work. If you are a TSSA member and have not received your ballot paper by this Thursday, 28 July, then please call our helpdesk on 0800 328 2673. If you are not a member and wish to join then please download a form our website: The TSSA is asking our members to vote 'Yes' to both questions, but it is really important that you participate whichever way you vote.

What’s happening?

To date, the company is still refusing to negotiate over pay and has yet to provide a commitment that it intends to respect individual employment rights (particularly those relating to unfair dismissal, discrimination law and the protection of whistleblowers).

We have however been offered an opportunity to meet with David Higgins to discuss our ‘future working relationships’. The TSSA will be meeting with David Higgins on Friday of this week. We have made it plain that we want a modern, professional relationship. We expect the company to negotiate in good faith over our members’ pay and other conditions of employment, and we expect a commitment that our members’ statutory employment rights will be respected.

Fair pay

This year’s 2.5% increase in the pay pot is unfair when inflation is running at 5.2% and operational grades were offered and received RPI +0.5%.

The distribution by the discredited Performance Related Pay system is unfair as the rise people actually receive is a lottery. According to our survey, a ‘good’ performance could lead to an increase of anything from zero to in excess of 5.2%.

Overall, in our survey, 63% of all staff responding received less than the 2.5% nominal pay pot, 23% received the nominal pay pot and just 14% won a pay award above that figure. Less than 1% of all managers received an award equivalent or greater than the 5.2% inflation rate (which was the figure received by operational grades based on November’s RPI + 0.5).

Our survey also shows unfair differentials in pay between people doing the same job. While there is strong evidence of an unlawful gender pay gap, there are also differentials unrelated to gender with many examples of colleagues being paid 40% less than comparators for doing the same job. Indeed it is not uncommon for staff to be paid £10,000 difference for performing the same role (and in one case the pay difference was £25,000!). This is a pay structure that is unfair, lacks objectivity and is far from transparent. Network Rail has rejected our request that they publish the actual rates paid for different jobs in the company. As Network Rail refuses to negotiate we have no choice but to ballot.


We have asked Network Rail to commit to respecting our members’ basic employment rights. There have been a number of high profile cases in the media where the company has paid compensation to employment tribunal claimants (often with cases supported by the TSSA). There are many other cases that do not reach the media. If the company complied with the law and respected the employment rights of our members then:

  • The company would not have to pay out substantial sums in compensation
  • Our members would be better off
  • The company’s name would not be dragged through the mud in the media.

It is disappointing that despite recent changes at the top, Network Rail has failed to commit that in future basic employment rights will be respected and that it will be treated as a disciplinary offence to dismiss staff without a hearing, to racially abuse or sexually harass staff, to issue unlawful instructions to discriminate, or to subject staff to unlawful detriments for whistleblowing on dangerous malpractice.

Join us and have your say

Since the launch of our ballot for fair pay and respect at work, we have had a number of enquiries from ex-members and others who have not previously been members, asking whether they can participate in the industrial action ballot.

Only TSSA members will get a vote in the ballot. However, if non-members join (or rejoin) before 9 August, then we should be able to get a ballot paper to them in time for them to vote, before the close of the ballot on 18 August.

If you have colleagues who are interested in winning fair pay and respect for managers at Network Rail, then please ask them to join today.

They can download a joining form from our website: or call us on 020 7529 8018

Get involved

The TSSA needs help making sure that our messages are heard, and we have vacancies for local reps (who are trained to assist colleagues in disciplinary or grievance hearings and in local negotiations over restructuring etc). If you would like to know more about how you can get involved in your union then please contact:

Please draw this circular to the attention of colleagues not in the TSSA.

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