Following in the wake of votes for strike action by railway maintenance workers and supervisors, signallers have delivered a vote for strike action in an RMT-organised ballot.
The ballot is over the same dispute – cutbacks being imposed by Network rail which are opposed due to concern over safety and job cuts. The company plans to axe 1,500 of 18,000 jobs as part of its restructuring plans, which have been criticised by the Office of Rail Regulation and by 150 MPs.
Though Network Rail bosses claim that the network can withstand up to a week of strike action by maintenance staff, a signallers strike would be effective far more quickly, as many lines would have to close as a result of the main signalling centres being shut. Though further negotiations are planned, and anti-strike laws require that unions provide employers with 7 days' notice of action, the prospect of a joint strike by 5,000 signallers and 12,000 maintenance workers over Easter has been floated. It would be the first national rail strike in the UK in 16 years, and would take place at the most effective time for strike action.
54% voted for strike action, with 77% voting for industrial action short of a strike.