A long standing dispute involving thousands of network rail maintenance workers, which almost led to industrial actions is set to end after union leaders accepted a deal on jobs and pay it was announced.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) union is expected to accept an offer from Network Rail which will bring the long-running dispute over the loss of 1,500 maintenance jobs to an end.

Network Rail said it needed to reduce its workforce as part of its pursuit of greater efficiencies, but the RMT had opposed any reduction, claiming that safety would be jeopardised.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said the deal was worth about 7% between now and December 2011, plus a £2,000 lump sum for Christmas and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “At a time when the doom and gloom merchants are telling working people that they must accept pay freezes, job cuts and a grim Christmas and new year our Network Rail maintenance members have shown that if you stand together in a strong trade union you can win.

“The package our negotiators have secured on the back of a solid mandate for strike action from our members is a testament to the results that can be achieved by trade unionists who refuse to accept they should take the hit for the banking crisis.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “This is good news and a positive vote will allow us to make the changes needed to secure the future of all our people in the new maintenance organisation.”
Network Rail was at the centre of a political row this year for handing out £2.4m bonuses to senior management.