Transport workers have put their health and lives on the line during the pandemic and shouldn't be punished with pay freezes - a pay cut in real terms - by the Conservative government, comes the message from transport union TSSA ahead of Wednesday's Spending Review.
The trade union spoke out after speculation about an expected public sector pay freeze to be announced by the Chancellor. Public transport workers were classified as key workers when the country went into lockdown in March this year. Since then, dozens of public transport workers have sadly lost their lives to the virus, including at least 45 Transport for London (TfL) staff, with thousands more having to self-isolate after contracting the virus or being in close contact with someone who had it, or because they are clinically vulnerable.
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We stand in solidarity with all public and private sector workers who have battled through the pandemic, and with key workers who are continuing to go above and beyond to keep our country functioning.
“Our members across our railways and transport networks have put their health and lives on the line during the covid pandemic to keep key workers, medicines and goods moving. We believe that their efforts should be recognised and rewarded alongside other key workers. After such dedication and bravery, slapping them with a pay freeze would be the greatest insult. Many of our members at Network Rail have already seen their performance pay slashed, the last thing they need is another slap in the face.
“We urge the government to ensure our public sector and our rail workers are not made to bear the brunt of paying for the government’s failures in handling the virus – from unbelievably expensive mistakes in procurement to a failed track and trace operation which has set us back at every turn. The government has been happy to pay out over £100 million of taxpayers’ money to private rail shareholders under emergency covid measures, so the last thing they should be doing is punishing is our hard working members who deliver these vital services.”