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RAIL union RMT has warned of national industrial action against “lethal cuts” and attacks on safety standards at Network Rail.
The union began its No Cuts At Network Rail campaign today with a high-profile social media rollout and campaign materials mailed out directly to all members at the nationalised infrastructure company.
The union said that the drop in train passenger numbers due to the Covid-19 pandemic was being used by the government to cut jobs and halve the frequency of critical safety maintenance work to slash costs.
Network Rail had also implemented an open-ended pay freeze on key workers and led a “wholescale attack” on working conditions, RMT warned.
General secretary Mick Cash stressed that ministers were using the pandemic to “rush through the most radical restructuring of railway infrastructure since privatisation.”
“RMT [will] fight to stop those lethal cuts while at the same time preparing the ground for a national industrial dispute,” he said.
“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.”
A derailment at Hatfield in 2000, which killed four people and injured more than 70, exposed major failings at the privatised infrastructure company, which then collapsed. It was replaced by Network Rail.
Mr Cash added: “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.
“Every rail worker and every rail passenger has a stake in this fight.”
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