UK - Union officials will issue a strike ballot to Network Rail staff next week after the firm pressed ahead with plans to close its final salary scheme to new members.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers is expected to send the ballot calling for industrial action to more than 5000 scheme members by the end of Friday April 30.
If successful, the union said industrial action could start in early June – the first national rail stoppage in a decade.
The Network Rail Pension Scheme was closed to new entrants from April 1, amid opposition from the RMT, after falling into deficit.
It was replaced with a defined contribution arrangement that offers employer contributions between 3% and 7% when matched with employee contributions between nil and 4%, as well as a death-in-service benefit of four times’ salary.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Even those left in the old pension scheme will have to pay out ever-increasing contributions to maintain their benefits as fewer and fewer workers are left paying in.”
Crow also accused the firm of paying directors “fat bonuses” while “squeezing the pay of the people who actually go out and get the work done”.
Network Rail rejected the criticism and said it was forced to close the scheme because it was “prohibitively expensive”.
Chief executive John Armmitt said: “Talk of strike action is unnecessary and premature.
“The new Network Rail scheme is one of the best in the marketplace – at least as good and, in most cases, better than defined contributions schemes offered by other companies in the rail industry.”
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