Grant Shapps is allowing rail dispute to continue

Grant Shapps is allowing rail dispute to continue

30 April 2022

RMT Press Office:

Grant Shapps is allowing rail dispute to continue for "political and ideological purposes," says Scottish government.

Scottish Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth accuses Mr Shapps and the Westminster government of "not doing more" to resolve the current dispute with the transport union.

RMT is balloting over 40,000 members on Network Rail and the train operating companies over pay, no compulsory redundancies, and a guarantee there will be no detrimental changes to working practices.

Network Rail has proposed cutting 2,500 safety critical maintenance jobs which the union says would make rail accidents more likely and lead to "trains flying off the tracks."

Ms Gilruth expressed frustration in a letter to Mr Shapps, that any strike action would have an adverse effect on the Scottish part of the network, but that Holyrood has no say in the matter.

She wrote: "At a time when both Governments are trying to encourage the public back to rail, industrial action at this time would be extremely detrimental and, of course, would adversely impact on operations in Scotland and Scottish Network Rail employees.

"This dispute is not of the Scottish Government’s making; it is frustrating that, as with other Network Rail matters which are reserved, we have no say, no locus and no influence here, yet rail services and employees here in Scotland will be affected."

She said that safety on the railways must be the priority and sought assurances from Mr Shapps that "Network Rail operational plans are fully compliant with all safety requirements, and that the Office of Rail and Road will maintain appropriate assurance activities throughout any industrial action."

Ms Gilruth also pointed out that Network Rail has estimated that strike action by the RMT would cost the industry £30m a day - pointing out that this could outweigh cost savings rail bosses claim they will make through redundancies.

In a sideswipe at the UK government's handling of the whole issue, Ms Gilruth said: "It makes no economic sense for Network Rail to allow this dispute to worsen.

"On that basis, I think we can only conclude that this dispute is being allowed to continue for political or ideological purposes. The Scottish Government will not hesitate to make it known that that is our view."

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "The government is throwing political petrol on the fire regarding this dispute.

"The changes they seek to impose on railway workers would not be acceptable to any trade union worth their salt and they represent a fundamental danger to passenger safety.

"The Scottish Government recognise that the way you deal with disputes is by negotiation not by imposing changes that will leave thousands out of work and tens of thousands more facing real terms cuts in living standards.

"Ministers must put aside their ideological bias against trade unions like the RMT and negotiate in good faith.

"Our members are extremely motivated to deliver a huge 'yes' vote on May 24 for national rail strike action and will only be further encouraged to post their ballot, by the intransigence of UK government ministers."

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Tagged with: Network Rail, Defend Rail Jobs, Pay & Conditions, Ballot, Strike, Rail Dispute, Grant Shapps