8 June 2020
RMT Press Office:
RMT demands urgent recommencement of railway enhancement works in Scotland.
RAIL UNION RMT today called on the Scottish Government to take urgent action to protect vital jobs on the railway in a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Since Scotland went into lockdown railway enhancement works have fallen under the same restrictions as the wider construction sector.
However, as lockdown measures are eased RMT is confident these works can be recommenced with the strictest possible health and safety guidelines and hundreds of jobs across Scotland’s railways can be protected.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“The health and safety of my members is paramount and my reps are now confident Scottish railway enhancement works can be recommenced safely as they have been in England and Wales.
“For some reason, despite our reassurances, the Scottish Government is insisting this sector remains under lockdown which is now putting hundreds of my member’s jobs potentially at risk.”
"To compound matters further rail renewals works continue to go ahead in Scotland while enhancements remain out of bounds to our members despite the exact same risk control and additional safety measures being in place.
" RMT believes that if this current illogical position remains in place rail infrastructure workers will potentially be thrown on the scrap heap simply due to political decisions being made which are totally contrary to the advice being given to Scottish Government Ministers by Network Rail on behalf of the rail Infrastructure contracting supply chain and by RMT on behalf of the workforce.
“We are ready to offer those reassurances to the First Minister and Scottish Government and have today requested an urgent meeting to agree a way to protect jobs whilst ensuring the highest standards of health and safety.”
Note to editors
Letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP
St. Andrew's House
Dear First Minister
Urgent – Lockdown of railway enhancement works is risking Scottish jobs
I am writing to request an urgent meeting with you and your officals in Transport Scotland to discuss how we can find a way forward to exempt vital railway enghancement works from the current lockdown restrictions in Scotland.
I am now deeply concerned that hundreds of my members jobs are now being put at risk as railway enhancement works in Scotland remain locked in with construction sector guidelines and the works remain unavailable to my members - many of whom are currently unnecessarily furloughed despite there being sufficient rail infrastructure enhancement works available across Scotland to ensure all staff are gainfully employed.
We have outlined to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport that the site control documentations currently in place in this sector are second to none and have been designed with full RMT involvement and support including RMT representatives being designated as site marshals with full health and safety powers to ensure full compliance.
My union has been at the forefront of opposing any attempts to water down health and safety provisions both before and during the current COVID - 19 world health emergency and we will continue to challenge unsafe working practices beyond the current health emergency.
Our members health and safety is paramount and as the industry has already made clear the rail infrastructure sector is not comparable to building site activities and the railway is governed by a comprehensive and complex set of rules and regulations which means works delayed and postponed are required to be re-planned which can be a very difficult logistical issue.
An additional concern my union has in relation to your current restrictions is the obvious attraction of skilled rail workers leaving Scotland to continue their careers on the English rail network where work is continuing to go ahead unrestricted by the wrong headed rules being applied to rail enhancement works in Scotland which could lead to the ambitious Scottish Government plans to transform Scotland’s railways in the dustbin due to the failure to see how ill advised your current guidelines are in relation to railway enhancement works.
I look forward to hearing from you soon and for us all to agree a resolution to allow railway enhancement works to recommence in Scotland safely and rapidly.
RMT General Secretary