Rail union TSSA has accused the government of “disastrous short termism” after the Rail Minister told MPs the cost of the national rail dispute has been far more than it would have taken to meet the demands of rail workers over pay, job security and conditions.
Appearing before the Transport Select Committee in Parliament this morning Huw Merriman was asked by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw if the cost to the government “of over a £1 billion so far would easily have been enough money to solve this dispute months ago?”
Merriman agreed, saying "if you look at it in that particular lens then absolutely it actually has ended up costing more than it would have been the case if it had settled in that part.”
He was also asked about claims by TSSA and other unions that the government had tied the hands of rail companies in the search for a solution to the dispute, saying "I don't believe we have interfered in a negative manner."
Responding, TSSA Interim General Secretary. Frank Ward, said: “The mask has slipped and the Rail Minister has exposed the disastrous short termism at the heart of the government's thinking about the rail dispute.
“Instead of taking a lead months ago and meeting us in good faith to address our very reasonable demands in the face of the cost of living crisis, Ministers have been content to block a deal.
“This is a shocking admission - that the actions of this wrong-headed Tory government have ended up costing the tax paying public over a billion pounds at a time when that money could have been used to fix this dispute and build up our railways after Covid.
“What we need to see happen now is proper engagement from the top of government to reach a settlement so our members, who were key workers in the pandemic, are able to move forward on decent pay and with job security and a safe reliable railway.”
TSSA is due to hold further talks later this week with the train operating companies under the auspices of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).