TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has hit out at the government after a leaked video showed bosses at Network Rail (NR) confirming they plan to bribe workers to break strike action.
Last week TSSA served notice to ballot for strike action, and action short of a strike, at Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains, CrossCountry, and East Midlands Railway. More are likely to follow in coming days, including at Network Rail, as a result of a dispute over pay, job security and conditions.
In the video – which shows a recording of an official NR briefing for regional management – senior NR bosses take questions from employees and confirm that those who take part in strike cover would receive “double pay plus enhancements".
A question is asked: “Is there any truth in the rumour that those who do not strike will get double pay plus enhancements?”
And the answer given is: “Yes, it is true. There will be double pay plus a day in lieu (annual leave) for those fulfilling a role within the strike days.”
NR has not made clear which roles are involved, but say in the video “we will be supporting financially the people who are covering key roles” in the Maintenance and Operations functions.
TSSA represents management grades which many of these payments are aimed at. The union has rejected the “cynical” approach from NR and registered a ‘failure to agree’ over the efforts to impose strike breaking bribes.
Communications seen by TSSA also show that NR bosses are planning bully boy tactics aimed at discouraging union members to vote for industrial action. The company is planning to ‘ask staff in advance if they intend to strike’ by holding one to one meetings between managers and staff. Plans are also being made to get staff into work without crossing picket lines.
Commenting, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said:
“The cat is really out of the bag. The Tories have the cheek to claim that our members can't have the pay rise they so richly deserve because our railways can't afford it.
“Yet at the same time they have instructed management at Network Rail to throw endless pots of money at attempts to break strikes. So, it seems there’s cash aplenty when it comes to stopping perfectly legal industrial action but nothing for our workers who face a cost-of-living crisis and were hailed as heroes in the pandemic.
"It's clear that Johnson and his Tory cronies are now picking a fight rather than trying to find solutions. Trying to pit worker against worker is an affront to British democracy and offers nothing at a time when thousands of jobs are on the line.
"Our members will see their petty bribes for what they are – a shameful, underhand attempt to divide and rule. The British people will no doubt feel the same because the whole country is tired of this government and their deeply unpopular antics.”