England

East Midlands Trains urges RMT not to strike

East Midlands Trains (EMT) has called on members of the RMT union not to follow Aslef colleagues in an "unnecessary and unhelpful" strike.

On Thursday, Aslef drivers took part in the last of six, one-day strikes in a dispute about plans by the firm to cut contributions to its pension fund.

Members of the RMT are currently being balloted on whether to take part in industrial action.

EMT urged Aslef to "sit down and resolve the issue".

Under the new arrangements, EMT said staff contributions would reduce from 10.5% of their annual salary to 9.08%, with no impact on their final salary.

David Horne, managing director of EMT, said scheme trustees had agreed that extra contributions by the company and employees, which were put in place to clear a previous deficit, were no longer required now the scheme was in good health.

Mr Horne added: "[We urge] RMT not to follow their Aslef colleagues in voting for further unnecessary and unhelpful strikes."

'Short-term view'

But Aslef says cutting contributions in the current economic climate would be irresponsible.

Aslef's general secretary Mick Whelan said: "It is only reasonable that they [members] should demand a fully protected and funded pension scheme.

"Our members work for the railways for all their lives. They cannot afford to take a short-term view like franchise companies."

No new dates for industrial action have yet been announced.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow added: "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."

Ballot papers are being handed out to RMT members until 30 May.

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