Rail union TSSA has accused the government of “deliberate deception” over the ongoing national rail dispute, with the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, offering only “smoke and mirrors” rather than serious dialogue.
This follows media comments from Harper earlier today in which he repeatedly signalled that the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), acting on behalf of the train companies, would not be able to make a higher pay offer without the approval of Ministers.
Harper told the Today Programme on BBC Radio Four that the train companies and unions “have to thrash out” a solution. TSSA has consistently said that the government is actively blocking a deal which would end the months’ long dispute on pay, job security and conditions.
TSSA members have been at the forefront of the dispute since the summer of last year, taking a range of industrial action, the latest of which was strikes over the Christmas period at operators CrossCountry, West Midlands Trains and Great Western Railway, all of which badly hit services.
The union has already put several train operating companies on notice for more industrial action this year with the aim of re-balloting thousands of members along new lines, to maximise the impact of industrial action.
Commenting, Interim General Secretary, Frank Ward, said: “I really wonder what Mark Harper is playing at. The Transport Secretary came into office just a few months ago saying his top priority was solving the rail dispute but his comments today highlight how the government is clipping the wings of the train companies who want to move to a solution.
“It’s nothing short of a deliberate deception to suggest on the one hand that train operators and unions have to find a solution, while at the same time actively blocking any improvements to a possible deal.
“It's time Ministers truly acted in good faith and realised that the smoke and mirrors approach they seem intent on pursuing will only result in further industrial action because our members know their demands are both just and reasonable.”
*TSSA is calling for – a pay increase which reflects the rising rate of inflation and spiralling cost of living, no compulsory redundancies and no unagreed changes to terms and conditions.