THE RMT has launched the next phase of its campaign opposing Network Rail plans which it claims would result in ‘thousands of job losses by this September and a wholescale dilution of safety standards, including halving the frequency of safety critical maintenance work’.
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines has responded by calling for the union to ‘embrace the need to modernise’.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Under orders from the government Network Rail is using the Covid-19 drop in passenger numbers and service levels to rush through the most radical restructuring of the railway infrastructure since privatisation.
‘Today RMT is launching the next phase of the campaign to fight to stop those lethal cuts whilst at the same time preparing the ground for a national industrial dispute.
‘Rather than the post Covid-19 return to rail recovery which our economy and climate desperately needs this is a return to the disastrous days of Railtrack where cutting costs and corners led to a string of fatal accidents.
‘Rail staff, who have been essential workers throughout the pandemic, have already had a kick in the teeth with an attempt to impose the government’s pay freeze. Now they are threatened with the loss of thousands of jobs accompanied by a drastic dilution of safety tasks, which will have catastrophic consequences for rail safety.
‘Every rail worker and every passenger has a stake in this fight.’
Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines told Railnews: ‘Outdated practices, and the impact of Covid on passenger numbers, show that the railway is not serving passengers, taxpayers or staff as well as it should.
‘That’s why we want to work constructively with the unions to create an industry fit for the 21st century that is genuinely safe, efficient and effective for everyone.
‘I hope the unions will recognise and embrace the need to modernise and will work with us to improve Britain’s rail network.’