TUC backs campaign by RMT, Aslef, TSSA and Unite to fight for the future of UK railways
The TUC is today supporting a national day of action today bringing rail unions and passenger groups together to fight proposals to cut staffing and services on UK railways.
The TUC fears the government will use its Command Paper, due to be published in the new year, to set out how it will take forward proposals in the McNulty review. This could include dramatic cuts to staffing and services, including the closure of over half the ticket offices in the country, cuts to staff on trains, stations, and in renewals and maintenance teams, as well as longer franchises that offer train operating companies greater freedom to cut unprofitable services.
The day of action will see campaigners distributing postcards to passengers during the morning rush hour at train stations around England, Scotland and Wales.
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The McNulty review proposes the loss of tens of thousands of frontline workers such as train guards, station and ticket office staff, as well as safety critical infrastructure and operational workers.
“It calls for even greater commercial freedom for train operators, higher fares, cuts in services, and more crowded trains – and for the breakup of Network Rail, which will make railways inefficient and put profit before safety.
“Cutting the number of ticket office workers, station staff and train crews is not what passengers want, and I’m sure many of them will back the action unions are organising today to support our railways.
“McNulty ignores lessons from railways in Europe which have achieved lower costs and fares through a more unified structure than Britain’s fragmented railways. And of course it has been the uncoordinated short termism of our railways that has put the UK’s last train manufacturer in Derby on the brink of closure.”
As part of the action, RMT members and supporters will be out in force at key Scottish railway stations in the fight to stop the fragmentation and destruction of rail services and jobs in the wake of the launch of a consultation by the Scottish government.
Supported by the Scottish TUC and sister rail unions ASLEF, TSSA and Unite, campaigners against the Scottish government’s plans will be taking the message to the public and building the campaign of opposition.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “In November 2011 the Scottish government launched Rail 2014 – a public consultation on the future of the Scotrail franchise. The document proposes a dramatic increase in fares in Scotland, more fragmentation, cuts to services, stations and staff levels, more overcrowded trains, more commercial freedom for private operators and more taxpayers’ subsidy.
“But, like the bankers, railway bosses will continue to prosper while we pay for the mess they have created. Scotrail is being given the green light to make even bigger profits on top of the astonishing £74 million in dividends that it has drained from the industry in the last four years.”
“Scotrail paid dividends of £18 million in 2010, £18 million in 2009, £17million in 2008 and £21million in 2007. In two of these years Scotrail actually paid more in dividends than it made in profit leading to the obvious conclusion that because it does not contribute anything towards investment in the railway or rail infrastructure.
“If dividends were not paid in 2010, RMT estimates rail fares could have been reduced by almost 7%.”
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