Wigan could be affected by national rail strike as union prepares ballots for action over pensions

The RMT is preparing to ballot for national strike action
The RMT is preparing to ballot for national strike action

Wigan could be affected by the first national rail strike in a generation after a transport union gets ready to ballot for widespread industrial action over pensions.

The RMT says the Government and rail companies have failed to provide the "cast-iron" assurances it requested that members' pensions would not be weakened, moving the threat of a nationwide shutdown of the railways a step closer.

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The union has therefore written to transport minister Chris Grayling, the industry regulator, train operating companies and the Rail Delivery Group warning action will be taken to defend retirement payouts should benefits be weakened or employee contributions hiked.

Preparations are also being put in place for a vote on national strike action, the union has warned.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "If it takes the first national rail strike in a generation to defend our members pensions then so be it.

"We will not tolerate a position where Chris Grayling and the train companies are playing fast and loose with rail pension rights and RMT members will not be left to pay the price for the collapsing chaos of the rail franchising system.

"We have made it crystal clear that this union will resist any attack on our members future pension rights either as a result of Government policy or greedy employers wanting to prop up their profits within the failed private franchise model."

"Any such attack will be met with a campaign of coordinated industrial action across the rail industry to defend pensions and in the absence of a satisfactory response from Government and the train operators that is where we are now heading."