England

RMT union to ballot East Midlands members over pensions

East Midlands Trains
Image caption Talks to resolve the dispute have ended without agreement

Rail union the RMT has announced it will ballot its members over industrial action on East Midlands Trains in a dispute over pensions.

It comes as East Midlands drivers from the union Aslef carry out a fifth day of action, also in a row over pensions.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said ballot papers would be distributed from 16 to 30 May.

Aslef says it is opposed to plans to cut pension contributions by both staff and East Midlands Trains (EMT).

Talks between the union and EMT broke up last week without agreement and another strike is due on Thursday.

'Long-term implications'

Mr Crow said: "While RMT members will receive a small financial gain from a reduction in contributions, it is clear that the biggest winner will be the employer.

"The RMT believe that the employer's savings will be in the region of £750,000 per annum.

"This short-term measure could well have serious long-term implications for the health of the fund as the volatile financial markets head downwards on the back of the eurozone crisis."

East Midlands Trains said the RMT's ballot was "extremely unhelpful" and would do nothing to resolve the dispute.

Managing director David Horne said: "[It] will cause further uncertainty among our passengers, whose services are being disrupted for no reason.

"The fact is that the pension scheme is in good health and the new pension contributions are the recommendation of independent experts.

"It makes no sense for the RMT to ask their members to join Aslef colleagues in striking for less pay and losing hundreds of pounds by walking out."

The company said it would work to keep disruption to a minimum but passengers are advised to check its website before travelling.

Aslef insists the indepedent calculations are flawed and cutting pension payments during uncertain economic times is irresponsible.

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