A row seems to be brewing between rail union TSSA and civil engineering contractor Balfour Beatty.
TSSA issued a report that its members, who are part of the Central Rail System Alliance working on railway track renewals, maintenance and upgrades, voted ‘yes’ to industrial action, including strike action, in a ballot which closed on 20 May.
Results showed over 90 per cent of the votes in favour of both industrial action short of strike, and strike action.
According to the union, the dispute is over members at Balfour Beatty not being offered any pay increase for 2020. This, it says, comes at a time when the infrastructure company is paying out nearly £2 million in bonuses to senior managers and turning a profit close to £50 million.
The union seems to have based its action on two articles in the civil engineering press which quoted those numbers.
The company’s annual report does indeed reveal profits of £51 million for the entire Balfour Beatty group, not just the rail business, in the 2020 financial year, but that figure is down from £221 million the year before.
The £2 million bonus figure is based on Balfour Beatty group’s two executive directors, Leo Quinn and Philip Harrison, receiving bonuses totalling £1,777,534. These are calculated using a documented procedure as part of their conditions of employment and are 42.5% down on the previous year. They did not receive any bonus on profit, as that was down during COVID-19, but did for the other elements, as those targets were achieved.
Commenting on the outcome of the ballot, union boss Manuel Cortes said: “Our brilliant members have shown huge commitment and sacrifice during this past year and have made their voices heard over their shoddy treatment by Balfour Beatty. They are simply not willing to accept the company’s empty offer after all they have done in this pandemic.
“I have a message for Balfour Beatty which they can’t fail to understand. Now is the time to step up to the plate with an improved offer – and avoid this looming industrial action.
“Our union is always happy to try and find a negotiated resolution to any dispute – and we are available for further direct talks with them or at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to find a resolution which meets the aspirations of our members.
“If this doesn’t happen. strike action next month will be a certainty. It’s that simple.”