Network Rail and Public Sector Strikes

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the Network Rail pay dispute. Network Rail owns the infrastructure, including the railway tracks, signals, overhead wires, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most stations; but it is mostly a Government funded organisation, a Government owned company in all but name. The National Audit Office and the Statistics Commission both treat Network Rail Ltd as a state-owned company. The previous coalition Government failed to honour the recommendations of the NHS pay review body, it gave public sector workers, including teachers below inflation pay rises year after year. Facing a 3 day strike, Network Rail have already offered a above inflation pay rise over 2 years; which has been turned down by the members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. The NHS unions will certainly be taking note, the teaching unions and all the public sector.


The Conservative Plan

The new almighty powerful Conservative Government are saying that they will require a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots affecting essential public services. Our new Government was elected on a 24.4% vote of the electorate (36.9% of the votes cast).
How can David Cameron call them essential services and then not honour their Pay Review Bodies recommendations, but yet accept the recommendations of the Westminster Pay Review Body, that gave MPs an 11% pay rise.
The Conservative plan seems to be to divide the nation; public sector against the private sector, and rich against the poor.

The Balance Of Power.

The Conservative manifesto says that they want a “£30bn fiscal consolidation” in the first two years of the next parliament.

That means more welfare savings, because they have ruled out tax rises.

Yet both main parties support HS2 and HS3, which a study by the Institute of Economic Affairs suggested would cost a total of more than £80bn.

I am a great supporter of the railways, but surely upgrading the existing lines and rolling stock would be more cost effective.

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts that there may be recruitment and retention problems in parts of the public sector if the Conservative plans for public sector pay go ahead in the next Parliament.

Nick Clegg has been speaking about the importance of giving the public sector a pay rise, MPs got the recommended pay rise, the one recommended by their pay review body, but the nurses did not.

After five years of pay restraint, teachers, nurses, police officers and all those who work in the public sector should no longer face pay 

This would mean a minimum pay increase in line with inflation for two years, and a guaranteed real terms increase in pay once the books have been balanced.

Recent polls have shown a slight increase in support for the Liberal Democrats.

Let’s just hope that it is Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power.

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