Network Rail excludes RMT members who went on strike from bonus

Network Rail has withheld annual performance-related pay (PRP) bonuses from RMT union members who took part in strikes.

The move comes after union members ended strikes and accepted a pay deal in March 2023, which will give them a 9% pay increase over two years. 

However, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the decision to exclude union members from bonuses will endanger employee relations again.

He said: “The decision to exclude trade unionists from this bonus scheme is disgraceful and is understandably causing significant consternation among members. 

“It is clear that the stance adopted by Network Rail both penalises and discriminates against members for exercising their human right to associate and to participate in lawful trade union activities.”

More on strikes: A year of strikes: what has changed?

Legal protections only exist for those who are unfairly dismissed for striking and the bonus scheme is not a contractual obligation, meaning union members have no legal rebuttal.

However, Lynch said: “The decision to exclude RMT members has been taken in bad faith and is a transparent attempt to divide the workforce and undermine the union, by specifically rewarding those who refused to stand in solidarity with union members taking essential strike action.”

Network Rail said it has always been clear that PRP would not be awarded to those who went on strike.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "Awarding PRP is Network Rail’s way of recognising colleagues for their contribution to achieving the company’s performance targets. We have been crystal clear with both our trade unions and our employees that the cost of strike action would directly impact the PRP scheme.”

Ruth Cornish, founder of HR consultancy Amelore, said the move risks reigniting employee dissatisfaction.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “After strikes, organisations should focus on rebuilding trust with employees.

“Actions like this can be divisive and fan flames on a fire that was going out. It can divide the workforce and impact on a range of things from working relationships to commercial targets. Some may see it as an own goal.”

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Organisations should try where they can to foster a positive relationship with unions, she added.

She said: “Organisations should aim for a collaborative partnership where information is shared freely and both the union and management side have the same agenda to do what is best for the organisation and the workers within it. 

“Focusing on conflict resolution, employee development and above all being consistent in decision-making and actions are all key.”

Strikes will continue as RMT members working for train operating companies and the train drivers at the Aslef union push for better pay deals.

On 2 Septmeber, 20,000 RMT members are expected to strike, while Aslef has announced its members will strike on Friday, 1 September and refuse to work overtime on Saturday, 2 September.