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Rail union warns UK-wide strikes may be ahead

A LEADING rail union is stepping up a campaign warning of huge job cuts in the coming months amid the threat of a national industrial dispute.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union claims spending cuts are putting thousands of Network Rail jobs at risk, as well as safety maintenance work.

The union has launched a social media campaign and sent details to all its Network Rail members, warning they face an open-ended pay freeze and a “wholescale attack” on working conditions.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “Under orders from the government, Network Rail is using the Covid-19 drop in passenger numbers and service levels to rush through the most radical restructuring of the railway infrastructure since privatisation.

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“Today RMT is launching the next phase of the campaign to fight to stop those lethal cuts whilst at the same time preparing the ground for a national industrial dispute.

“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.

“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 for rail safety.”

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines has said: “Outdated practices, and the impact of Covid on passenger numbers, show that the railway is not serving passengers, taxpayers or staff as well as it should.

“That’s why we want to work constructively with the unions to create an industry fit for the 21st century that is genuinely safe, efficient and effective for everyone.

“I hope the unions will recognise and embrace the need to modernise and will work with us to improve Britain’s rail network.”

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