Rail union TSSA has today (Tuesday) warned that any move by rail bosses to force compulsory redundancies would be seen as “an act of war” and trigger industrial action ballots across the industry.
A no compulsory redundancy agreement has been in place for 2021 – secured by unions in talks with employers and government through the Rail Industry Recovery Group (RIRG) forum. This agreement has enabled a period of cooperation between unions and industry while covid measures and change have been implemented.
Rail union TSSA wrote to the Chair of the RIRG early last month seeking an extension to the existing no compulsory redundancy policy to the end of 2022 within all employers who are part of the RIRG. No such assurance has been forthcoming, despite further direct questions from TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes to industry bosses. The current policy ends in just over three weeks on 31 December 2021.
This comes at a time when there are reports that rapid and deep cuts to jobs and services on our railways are on the way, and after most rail staff didn't get a pay rise for 2021 with RPI inflation now running at 6%.
TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "Let's be crystal clear, any attempt to use compulsory redundancies will be seen as a declaration of war and trains will be coming to a halt.
“Our members are already righty angry that having been hailed as heroes for keeping our country moving during the pandemic, they are now facing job cuts. Despite putting themselves on the line through the pandemic, the vast majority of them saw their income fall in real terms as they did not get a pay increase for 2021.
“We are now in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis with inflation rising fast and there's no way that our union will tolerate our members’ income falling further behind in 2022.
“So I say to the Government and the rail bosses - give us a guarantee that you will not use compulsory redundancies during 2022 and that our members’ pay increases will at the very least match inflation, or ballots for industrial action will follow as swiftly as night follows day."