RMT slams Grant Shapps “insulting and ill-informed” comments

RMT slams Grant Shapps “insulting and ill-informed” comments

26 May 2021

RMT Press Office:

RMT slams Grant Shapps “insulting and ill-informed” comments to rail workers at today’s Parliamentary Transport Select Committee.

RAIL UNION RMT slammed the Secretary of State Grant Shapps today after he used an appearance at the Transport Select Committee to put his full backing behind the pandemic profiteers while dismissing concerns about the plight of rail staff with ‘insulting and ill-informed bragging’ about his role in saving jobs.

Mr Shapps was asked by Grahame Morris MP whether he was concerned about reports that whilst rail workers were subject to pay freezes and threats to thousands of jobs the government was paying out £80 million in profits to private train companies in just 6 months during the first bailout, as well as funding rolling stock companies so they can pay tens of millions in huge dividends .

Mr Shapps replied that ‘the millions you talk about’ represent ‘a very small percentage, a tiny percentage’ of the cost of the entire system.

Asked about what he had to say to staff facing a pay freeze and concerned about job cuts, Mr Shapps offered them ‘a huge thank you’ for their service during the pandemic but said nothing about pay and jobs in the future, while claiming to have saved ‘every single job on the railways without exception’.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said,

“What we saw today was some casual and insulting ill-informed bragging on jobs and a big fat nothing to reassure staff about the future. To say hundreds of millions in government funded pandemic profits is a small amount when rail workers are being told to stomach a government imposed pay freeze is appalling.

“To then tell MPs they have saved every job on the railways when we know many jobs have been lost already and thousands more under threat to come is misleading MPs.”

“Our members have done their duty and they’re looking at a future where they’re being sized up by a government and companies that see them as a cost to be cut. If you’re a pandemic profiteer though, it’s trebles all round because this government definitely has your back”.

Notes for editors: 
1. At the Transport Select Committee this morning, Grant Shapps said:
“We have been paying them a small management fee to run the services, it is of course true against the millions that you talk about that the entire system has cost £12 billion to run through this system of taxpayers’ money, so a very small percentage, a tiny percentage has gone to those companies who have been running the actual services on the ground.”
“First of all, a huge thanks you, I think they have successfully helped this country keep going during the pandemic and helped bring many keyworkers to hospitals and other places of work, we would have been stuck without them and that’s before we talk about the freight impact as well, so a huge thank you to them. Secondly, everybody, I think even including the unions in our discussions recognises that there’s much that is outdated about the way that we operate our railways, not least actually, frankly, the conditions that rail workers have to operate in. I’ve seen, for example, just the changing rooms, the unmodernised facilities that thy have to operate in and again there’s no excuse for that in the 21 st century, we can do a lot better. I’d refer you though to page 96 of the White paper because we talk in there about the workforce and how we have during the pandemic we have stepped in to save every singe rail job, without exception, which hasn’t happened with the private sector, for example.”
2. Figures released by the DfT on 12 May reveal that in 6 months, the Train Operating Companies made more than £88 million in profit, much of which will go overseas:
Table showing DfT management fee payments to passenger rail operators under emergency agreements, March to September 2020
Total fees payable
Amount of profit available for export
Arriva (Deutsche Bahn)
Cross Country
Deutsche Bahn
East Midlands
Abellio (Dutch state railways)
East Anglia
Abellio (Dutch state railways)
Essex Thameside
Trenitalia (Italian state railways)
Great Western
South Eastern
Govia (comprising Go-ahead 65% and Keolis 35%)
South Western
First (70%)/MTR (Chinese state, 30%)
Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
Govia (comprising Go-ahead 65% and Keolis 35%)
TransPennine Express
West Coast Partnership
First (65%) Trenitalia (35%
West Midlands
Dutch State railways and two Japanese private firms
3. Eversholt, one of the three Rolling Stock leasing companies who own more than 85% of trains running on Britain’s railways, paid their shareholders a dividend of £46.5 million for the year covering March 2020, to March 2021. The government has guaranteed to pay all Eversholt’s lease charges under the bailout packages agreed with the industry and has done nothing to stop the Rolling Stock Leasing companies paying dividends during the pandemic. Indeed, according to Eversholt’s most recent accounts, its Directors ‘do not believe that COVID-19 presents any material risks to the Group’ and say that ‘the key critical judgement in reaching this conclusion to be the UK Government’s continued support to the rail industry.’

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Tagged with: Grant Shapps, Rail Workers, Transport Select Committee, Rail Union, RMT