TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has hit out at the Government over plans to cut thousands of jobs across the rail industry in the wake of the pandemic.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has approved a Special Industry-wide Voluntary Severance Scheme (VSS) for eligible employees working for Train Operating Companies and will open this as of midday today.
Cortes described the VSS announcement, which has not been agreed with any of the rail unions, as the “culmination of 11 years of Tory failure”, and “ludicrous” given the role rail can play in the fight to decarbonise.
Commenting, union leader Cortes said: “Frankly, it's ludicrous that with COP26 just round the corner, the Conservatives are looking to cut thousands of rail jobs which will mean that services on our railways will not be returning to their pre-pandemic levels.
“If Boris Johnson and his cohorts were serious about decarbonisation, they would be making it easy for people to get out of their cars and onto our railways.
“You simply don't do this by cutting train services whilst keeping in place the most expensive walk-on fares in the world - and you certainly shouldn't be allowing private operators to make profits at the expense of taxpayers and passengers.
“Our railways are a basic universal public service. However, the Government treats them like a ‘rich man's toy' to quote former Tory Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond.
“Today's announcement is sadly the culmination of 11 years of Tory failure to seriously deal with decarbonisation by making people switch from their cars to our railways. No amount of empty rhetoric by Jonhson during COP26 will mask the fact that the Tories are just not at all serious about saving our planet.”
*The scheme will be open for a 3 week period, closing at 23.59 hours on Tuesday 2nd November. Due to the imminent transfer to the Operator of Last Resort (OLR) include Southeastern employees are not included at present.