THE RMT union has called off strikes which had been under way at two Alstom maintenance sites in north west England – but only for now.
The sites affected are Longsight in Manchester, where Alstom maintains Avanti West Coast Pendolinos, and Chester, which takes care of the Class 175 fleet used in north Wales.
The union has warned that it will return to its ‘pay battle’ in the New Year, and in the meantime a ban on rest day and overtime working will continue.
The RMT has protested that although Alstom made pre-tax profits of €263 million (£239 million) in the six months to the end of September and is also financing the take-over of Bombardier, it has refused to increase the pay of workers at Manchester and Chester.
The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘I want to pay tribute to our members who have stood rock solid in this fight for pay justice from the wealthy global operator Alstom. To try and railroad through a pay freeze when the company’s own accounts show that they are awash with cash is nothing short of a scandal.
‘We will now have time to plan the next phase of the campaign with our sister unions and jack it back up in the new year.’
Alstom said its priority had been to ‘preserve jobs’ and maintain earnings by topping up the pay of staff who have been furloughed. This meant that ‘other efficiency measures’ had been necessary, including ‘the difficult decision to implement pay restraint for all employees worldwide’.
A spokesman added: ‘We are disappointed that the RMT does not agree with this prioritisation.’
The company also said it has ‘mitigation plans’ to reduce any disruption caused by industrial action to the ‘absolute minimum’.