24 July 2018
RMT Press Office:
Railway unions unite to tell new transport minister to halt police merger.
The UK's three largest railway unions have united to tell the new SNP Transport minister to dump the unwanted plans to merge the British Transport Police with Police Scotland.
The RMT, TSSA and ASLEF have joined Labour in calling on Michael Matheson to re-think the proposal and come back to the negotiation table with the workers.
As Justice Secretary, Mr Matheson did not listen to police officers on the issue and gave the green light to former transport minister Humza Yousaf to drive through the changes. It’s now time for him to listen to railway workers from across the industry.
Labour will continue to fight for safe, publicly owned railways that serve the many, not just the few.
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Colin Smyth, said:
“Labour has consistently opposed this merger as it is unwanted, unnecessary and uncosted.
“The gravity of the situation is underlined by this coming together of three separate transport unions, all pleading with the new SNP Transport Minister Michael Matheson to pause and re-think this plan.
"As Justice Secretary, Mr Matheson backed the merger and allowed Humza Yousaf to try and drive through these changes.
“The summer recess gives Mr Matheson the opportunity to chart a different course for Scotland’s railways once he returns to Holyrood in his new role.
“Labour hopes that he listens to British Transport Police officers, and the rest of the industry, and bins this divisive policy.
“Only Labour is fighting for safe, publicly owned railways that serve the many, not just the few.”
Notes to editors
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said: “The integrity and operation of an integrated national UK rail network should be mirrored by specialist railway policing. The Scottish Government’s plans to merge the BTP in Scotland with Police Scotland would jeopardise specialist policing standards, not to mention presenting the Scottish taxpayer, passengers, staff and operators with a ballooning bill for a sub-standard service.
“The Smith Commission’s recommendation can still be satisfied without introducing a wholly obstructive and expensive extra layer of administration for the rail industry, particularly cross-border passenger and freight rail services.
“We repeat our call on the Scottish Government to see sense and to re-start the consultation process on a more inclusive footing which seeks to maintain and improve specialist railway policing in Scotland, rather than press ganging BTP officers into Police Scotland for political purposes.”
TSSA leader, Manuel Cortes said: “Our members have been campaigning against this wholly unnecessary merger from the off. Academics, the Police Watchdog, Police Officers, passengers and our members all agree that bringing together the British Transport Police (BTP) and Police Scotland is unnecessary, unwise and downright dangerous.
“Sadly, it's clear that so far, the SNP is putting nationalist dogma ahead of the safety and well-being of Scotland’s rail passengers."
ASLEF Scotland organiser, Kevin Lindsay, said: “ASLEF and the other rail trade unions have been opposed to the BTP and police Scotland merger since the idea was first floated. We believe that this merger will bring an unnecessary risk to rail passengers and staff alike.
“We therefore support the calls for this proposed merger to be scrapped.”