08:00 Friday 21 September 2012

Strikes at rail depot called off after pay deal is agreed

Written byTIM FLETCHER

STRIKE action at a train depot near Burton has ended after management and a union finally agreed on a revised pay deal — after more than 10 months of wrangling.

Bombardier in Barton under Needwood
Bombardier in Barton under Needwood

Unite members at Bombardier’s Central Rivers depot (pictured right), near Barton under Needwood, had suspended a series of strikes called last month as talks continued between bosses and the union.

Now, further action has been called off after members accepted a deal which will see Bombardier pay a cash sum of £730 to all its depot workers, in lieu of a percentage pay increase.

The offer means lower-paid workers will benefit while those on a higher pay scale will lose out, and while the union has not disclosed the result of its latest ballot, it said the vote in favour of ending industrial action had been ‘very close’.

The union has called for further talks with Bombardier bosses in a bid to improve relations between staff and management, with a pay review for next year due to begin within months.

Unite regional officer Mick Stevens told the Mail: “Bombardier wouldn’t improve on the overall pot of money they were offering so we had to be creative about how it was divided up and agreed a single payment to each employee.

“The revised offer was narrowly accepted by Unite members, which means we’ve still got a lot of work to do, as a lot of the workforce are not happy about this deal and the way it was handled.

“We have called for a meeting with the employer to work on its industrial relations and ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“The 2013 pay review is due to start in November or December and we don’t want to have to go through a repeat of the same process.”

A series of six walk-outs, along with a continuous overtime ban, was originally called in August after 81 per cent of the 139 Unite members who returned their ballots, from an overall membership of 165 at the depot, voted for strike action.

The 10-month dispute came to a head after Bombardier refused to provide ‘essential information’ to justify its below inflation 2.5 per cent pay offer.

However, the action was suspended following the first two-day walk-out to allow talks to continue.

The Central Rivers depot services trains for operators Virgin and Arriva Cross Country.

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