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Rail unions slam ‘kick in the teeth’ pay rises decision

Rail unions slam ‘kick in the teeth’ pay rises decision
Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

The Government is on a collision course with rail unions after revealing that pay rises for workers in the industry will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Unions said the decision is a “kick in the teeth” for frontline staff who have kept working throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

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They have launched a campaign aimed at halting the threat of pay freezes and cuts to standards of living of rail workers.

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Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: “Today, transport workers who are risking their lives keeping our country moving have found out they have been stabbed in the back by the Government, who have extended the public sector pay freeze to the transport sector whilst at the same time it’s business as usual for the private companies who will continue to be able to rake in profits.

“RMT will have no hesitation in supporting national co-ordinated action to deliver our members the pay rise they deserve.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), said: “Slapping our rail staff with pay freezes is a kick in the teeth for key workers from this Tory Government.

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“The Conservatives were happy to hand over billions to private rail companies and their shareholders, but it seems their praise for essential staff putting their lives on the line to keep our country moving during the coronavirus pandemic is just empty rhetoric.

“It’s one rule for the private shareholders and another for the workers. This Government is a disgrace and their actions will blow a hole in the already rock-bottom morale of our key worker heroes.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have invested billions in an unprecedented support package for the railways, keeping services running and protecting frontline jobs.

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“It would be unfair to increase the burden on taxpayers by funding rail industry pay rises, and we would only consider increases in exceptional circumstances.

“We are immensely grateful to everyone that has worked so hard to keep the railway running, but our focus must be protecting jobs, services and taxpayers through this unprecedented period.”

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Sam Hewitt

Let off some steam...