NETWORK Rail has been described as “hypocritical” for praising Scotland’s railway for keeping going through the pandemic – while planning to lay off thousands of workers.
The owners of the UK’s rail infrastructure, including the tracks and signals is seeking to cut up to 9,000 jobs across the UK.
It has targeted middle management roles with the current scheme, which opened last week.
Network Rail regional managing director Tim Shoveller said the number of such white collar roles had “disproportionately grown over the last decade”.
The transport workers union TSSA is currently involved in an industrial dispute with Network Rail over their proposed implementation of job cuts which have so far seen management grade staff – which the union represents – within the company targeted for severance.
The video states, “It’s been quite a journey Scotland, but through it all our railway kept going. Helping life-savers get to work, keeping stocks up and chins up, and putting in a shift all across the country.
“But the work goes on with rail freight playing its part as we keep on investing and improving, spending a further £4bn to create a cleaner, greener, faster railway, decarbonised by 2035.
“Making the railway safer and ready to help people, communities and businesses rebuild and reconnect. “Creating a railway that will help this nation lead the green recovery and help deliver a greener future for us all. It’s your railway, Scotland’s Railway, and a better railway in the making.”
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes, said, “It’s hypocritical of Network Rail to release this video praising ‘our railway’ for ‘helping life-savers get to work’ whilst planning to cut thousands of the railway-workers who made this possible.
“Network Rail must think the Scottish public are daft if they think they can get away with praising ‘our railway’ without mentioning our members who actually make the railway run.
“This is nothing more than a bit of corporate spin, Network Rail bragging about money they’re spending on infrastructure, in order to distract from the industrial dispute they’re in. But it’s perverse to brag about spending £4 billion on investment on our railway, when the ordinary rail workers who bravely risked their lives to keep the trains running in the middle of a global pandemic are wondering if they’re going to lose their jobs.”
Rail industry union the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said that the cuts would “seriously compromise rail safety as key teams and functions are diluted and taken apart”.
— Network Rail Scotland (@NetworkRailSCOT) August 16, 2021
The union is concerned that workers are under pressure to accept the redundancy packages, as the terms will be less favourable in later phases of voluntary redundancy.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the rail group was taking “advantage of the COVID crisis to deliver a devastating short-term cuts agenda on rail on behalf of the government”.
“RMT entirely condemns this approach, which will commence even before there have been any real discussions with the trade unions on the employer’s proposals for the future of the industry,” he added. “They are seeking to get the job cuts in first and organise the industry after. The idea that we would sign up to this cavalier and dangerous approach is clearly nonsense.”