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Labour calls for railway maintenance to be ‘brought back in-house’ after workers' deaths

LABOUR today called for railway maintenance to be “brought back in-house” after the recent deaths of two track workers in south Wales.

Shadow transport minister Rachael Maskell urged the government to ban zero-hours contracts and end a culture of “exploitative and unsafe work practices” on Britain’s railways.

She asked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in the Commons: “Will the Secretary of State bring an immediate end to zero-hour contracts, as advised by the regulator for road and rail, bring this work back in-house, and bring an end to these exploitative and unsafe work practices?”

Ms Maskell described a report released last week about the death of another track worker in south London. It described protections for rail workers as “Victorian” due to “casual labour and a zero-hour culture.”

Her comments came after Network Rail engineers Michael “Spike” Lewis and Gareth Delbridge were killed by a passenger train earlier this month while working on tracks near Port Talbot.

But Mr Grayling responded to Ms Maskell: “There is an ongoing investigation into what happened and I have already asked both the Accident Investigation Bureau and also Network Rail to ensure that lessons are properly learned from that tragedy.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash told the Star: “We welcome this support from Labour for contracted work on Network Rail to be brought in-house.

“It is the only way that we will end the scourge of fatigue, zero-hours contracts and the casualisation of safety critical work that blights the railway and endangers our members.”


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