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THE RMT has pledged to lead a rank-and-file fight for track workers’ safety, following the deaths of two employees near Port Talbot last week.
The union’s general secretary Mick Cash and assistant general secretary Mick Lynch attended the Bridgend branch last night to express their solidarity and sympathies with union members who knew Gareth Delbridge and Michael Lewis, who were hit and killed by a train last Wednesday.
Both men warned that there is a “systemic and corporate failure” with safety culture on the railway, and are calling for the ORR safety regulator to issue an urgent response regarding workers’ safety.
Mr Cash pointed out that the union had raised issues relating to near-misses and broader safety concerns with Network Rail bosses, but felt ignored.
He said that management must recognise the “shock and anger” felt across the workforce over the deaths, and added that any action by the ORR will be seen as “too late.”
Mr Cash said: “Since last week’s tragic events in Port Talbot the union’s focus has been on supporting our members and their families affected by the incident.
“I can make it clear that we will be stepping up our vigorous campaign for the elimination of track worker fatalities and serious injuries, based on a simple and coherent track safety regime that has worker protection as its core principle.”
RMT members on Network Rail will also be convening a national meeting, where demands from track workers for a ban on working in dangerous “red zone” areas until safety issues are “taken seriously” will be raised.
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