RMT warns of industrial action over job cuts

The biggest rail workers’ union is warning it is “ready” to take industrial action against any post-Covid plans to cut jobs and services.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said it was stepping up a campaign against a “cynical and opportunist” wave of cuts it warned was being planned across the rail network.

The union said cuts already being lined up would “decimate” services and staffing levels and would “fly in the face” of Government statements that rail passenger usage is expected to return to pre-Covid levels.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is crystal clear that cutbacks already planned are just the tip of the iceberg as cynical employers use the cloak of Covid to smuggle through the decimation of jobs and services on Britain’s railways.

“Not only do these planned cuts fly in the face of the Government’s own statements on future rail usage, they also make a mockery of their green agenda as they will force more cars onto the road at the expense of environmentally-friendly rail travel.

“RMT will not sit back while this carve up of the rail network is cooked up in company boardrooms.

Commuters at Leeds railway station (Danny Lawson/PA)
Commuters at Leeds railway station (Danny Lawson/PA)

“We will be stepping up our campaigning and the union has moved onto an industrial war-footing as we recognise exactly what is at stake.

“If it means national industrial action on the railways to stop this carnage we are more than ready for that.”

Mr Lynch has written to the Government urging ministers to intervene over cuts he says are planned by South Western Railway.

An SWR spokesman said: “The timetable we are proposing from December 2022 will represent a significant increase on our current service levels and provide 93% of our pre-Covid capacity.

“With customer journeys forecast to return to 76% of pre-pandemic levels, it is appropriate that we right-size our services to match demand, improve reliability for our customers and reduce costs for the taxpayer.”