According to the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) Thousands of maintenance jobs are under threat under restructuring plans to cut costs after the coronavirus pandemic.
Estimating that it could mean up to one in three of about 14,000 affected employees being laid off.
With further claims by the union that Network Rail will unveil plans later this week to half the frequency of maintenance work.
In an email to staff seen by the Guardian, the Network Rail chief executive, Andrew Haines, said that to deliver a safe and affordable railway “change needs to happen. A decision to stay as we are is untenable,” adding: “This will be tough for every one of us.”
“Outdated practices, and the impact of Covid on passenger numbers, show that the railway is not serving passengers, taxpayers or staff as well as it should” he added.
The union’s bosses said they now have “no alternative” to move to a national dispute footing to protect its members’ livelihoods and safety”.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash, said: "I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps”
Adding “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 privatization”
“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.”
However, in response Haines said “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 recognize and embrace the need to modernize and will work with us to improve Britain’s rail network”
With the governments road-map out of lockdown, there is definitely much to discuss in regards to what mitigation or transitional plans are to be implemented if RTMs claims and Haines words were to come into fruition. However, yet this situation has not come to a surprise to many as these claims and announcements by both parties come following government’s decision to cut £1bn worth of work from its rail enhancements pipeline back in December.
More to follow