RMT threatens nationwide strikes over pension dispute

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has warned that any cuts to its members’ pension benefits or an increase in employee contributions could result in nationwide strike action.

The Independent reported that RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, wrote a letter to members that voiced concerns over the future of the Railway Pension Scheme, and the news that Stagecoach and Virgin were disqualified from bidding on rail franchises due to non-compliant bids in relation to the scheme.

In the letter, Cash stated: “This has quite understandably raised concerns amongst all our train operating company (TOC) members in respect of their future pension benefits.

“Your union is of the view that the railway pension scheme is fundamentally sound and in good shape.

“The only reason there now appears to be an issue is a new approach from The Pensions Regulator and the government, which is threatening the scheme.”

The RMT also threatened strike action last April, after what it described as the “fiasco” over Stagecoach and Virgin being banned from franchise bidding.

It will discuss the issue at its annual general meeting, which is being begins today (24 June) in Manchester.

Cash added: “Ministers have decided that employers will be given financial assistance from the government with any future deficit while members of the scheme will still have to meet their share of any deficit in line with the railway pension scheme shared cost arrangement.

“This is not just an attack on our members future pension rights, but also puts in doubt the long-term future of the railway pension scheme.”

The general secretary also said that he has written to the regulator, TOC employers, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and the Rail Delivery Group, warning that the RMT would take the “necessary action” if there is an attempt to reduce benefits or increase member contributions.

He concluded: “Any such attack will be met with a campaign of co-ordinated industrial action across the rail industry to defend pensions.”

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