Analysis Breaking News

Breaking: Tories swing axe on rail with ‘ludicrous’ mass cuts

Huge redundancy programme announced just ahead of climate change conference, despite environmental implications

The Tories have announced an ‘industry-wide’ redundancy programme hitting workers in the rail sector in England – without any agreement with rail unions.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has approved a ‘Special Industry-wide Voluntary Severance Scheme’ (VSS) for eligible employees working for Train Operating Companies, open from midday today.

TSSA union head Manuel Cortes described the announcement, which has not been agreed with any of the relevant unions, as the “culmination of 11 years of Tory failure”, and “ludicrous” given the role rail can play in the fight to decarbonise. Cortest 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.

Despite its title, the scheme will not apply to Southeastern employees because of their imminent transfer to the ‘Operator of Last Resort’.

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  1. I’m confused I thought the railways were run by private companies. How come the government and not the companies themselves not issuing these redundancies?

    1. The privatisation of the railway was a classic Tory con-job. It was designed to funnel as much public money into private pockets as possible, and at the same time, give greater operational control to the Dept. of Transport than it had with the BR Board.
      Ironically, the original private train operators were generally unable to run trains efficiently, and the “private pockets”are nowadays other state-run European rail companies, including SNCF, TrenItalia, the Dutch (NS), and Britain’s biggest train operator, DB, which is the German State Railway. The writing on the wall for the whole shambles was the renationalisation of Railtrack.

  2. Lets see what the leader of the Labour party has to say?We know what the Torys do,they act like torys do.Does the Labour leader do?its a big enough question too finish him off even for the right wing tribute act supporters!

  3. It’s Voluntary. You don’t have to take redundancy if you don’t want to. Not Compulsory. You get a big cash handout instead of just your holiday pay etc if you don’t want to continue with this employer. And there are loads of job vacancies around. What’s not to like?

    1. Number of issues here. If it is statutory redundancy payment it won’t be a big cash handout. Secondly yes there are a lot of job vacancies but many are in sectors where the skill set may not fit the redundant employee. Also many of those vacancies are on seasonal contracts etc. Thirdly it means many reasonably paid jobs are being lost and may never come back. So they may be things “not to like”.

      1. Fair points. My experience is that voluntary schemes tend to offer far more than the stat minimum. If you don’t want to leave because you don’t want to, (maybe your skills are not what is required in the wider market) you don’t leave. There are more reasonably paid jobs being created all the time. Lastly it may be you will be rehired but on a Sched D basis (part time consultancy) if you want to work part time or whatever so the ’employer’ can save the on the jobs tax (employee and employer NIC). The employee has a choice unlike compulsory redundancy.

    2. Sorry plain citizen..real jobs disappeared years ago and most of the guff in the newspapers is just that.Paper boy wanted in Bolton elderly need to apply..job for life…pay by the hour and contract limited to life expectancy.

    3. Reply to Plain Citizen
      Voluntary Redundancy is the generally accepted as the first step in any redundancy situation. If there are insufficient volunteers then compulsory redundancy is the automatic next step so there is every chance people who want to continue working for their current employer won’t be allowed to do so.
      As well as the devastating effect redundancy has on the individuals concerned we also have to take account of the effect the shedding of these jobs will have on the economy and the future employment prospects of people hoping for work in the rail and associated industries. Once a job is gone it’s gone and the long term and the knock on effects of a massive redundancy programme such as this cannot be overestimated. This is a disaster for everyone associated with the railways – workers, passengers, associated industries, local businesses e.g newsagents, cafes etc who rely on rail passengers for trade etc. There is also environmental issues Manuel refers to – again these cannot be overestimated. All without any consultation with the unions- disgraceful and probably unlawful under the redundancy legislation.

  4. People, rightly, have been considering the situation of the rail workers who will be affected by this.
    We also need to be aware of the effect of redundancies on rail services and the remaining staff. If you cut the staff then:
    1. This results in reduced services, or
    2. The remaining staff have to do more work to provide the same level of service, or
    3. There is a “reorganisation” which results in “new” roles which are filled on short term contracts or “variable” contracts or by “subcontractors”.

    1. Interesting points but my view is that voluntary severance is not being offered to ‘front line’ staff but the bureaucrats in head office so service should not be detrimentally affected, indeed front line staff are going to be offered substantial pay rises to retain and recruit more. I have some knowledge of this industry and if you knew the amount of head office staff who are neither use nor ornament the general public would be amazed in the train operators and the organisations like London Underground, Network Rail etc on vast salaries you would be shocked.

      1. Plain Citizen
        Admin staff have a supporting role without which no organisation including the railways can function effectively. H&S , maintenance, HR and procurement functions etc rely heavily on Admin staff and it is wrong to undervalue and belittle them.
        You have clearly made up your mind that mass redundancies in the railways is a good thing and therefore you have closed your mind to the arguments I and other have put forward. I doubt if there is anything anyone could say which would change you mind.

    2. I presume that Railtrack are still owned by the taxpayer or the government.and the employers are the government including all the lands and offices,police officers etc etc that go with it.I can think of a number of interesting possibilities that the government are planning and why they are cutting the workforce…..OR did railtrack disappear whilst I was hiding in the jungle?.I have been evicted from railway stations a number of times whilst campaigning by “Thames link and S.east using railway police who are employees and the land I was on Public owned land….?

  5. First of all, we have to listen to the colossal gobshite ian dummkopf-schmitt, complaining that people went to work with bombs falling all around them during the blitz (They didn’t and they never) so they should return to their offices instead of working from home…

    …And now they want the rail staff to spew their jobs, meaning loads more people wont be able to get back to their offices?

    Just WHAT is their major malfunction? Do they think these potential ‘volunteers’ man the stations/ sell the tickets/ drive the trains remotely from home, or something?

    Clusterfucking imbeciles’ just doesn’t quite cut it. Nor does ‘Thick as fuck’

    And then you’ve got the alternative – keef. Dear God…Why? 🤷‍♂️🤦‍♂️

  6. Does make you wonder why so many foreign students come here for their education when Boris and the rest of them have had the best that money can buy. I went to a state comprehensive which I left at age 15, even I can see it’s idiotic to cut railway staff while we have a HGV driver shortage.

  7. Can’t see those cheap online Intercity fares we had pre-pandemic coming back, can you???

  8. And if Keir responds to this at all, he’ll probably end up saying something like “it’s enough that, if elected, we’ll only cut HALF as much…of what’s left. Because all that matters is getting something that CALLS itself ‘a Labour government’- and no one has any right to complain if it just keeps all the major Tory policies like Blair did because it’s STILL all Corbyn’s fault and you’ve all just been expelled for AS- And we’ll start with the Jews!”.

    (note: that would be Keir saying that, not me).

  9. This is another despicable act from tory scum but sadly not really a surprise.

    Also, we see plain citizen continues to post complete and utter bollocks

  10. Voluntary redundancy is a shrewd move.
    The railways are well unionised with pretty good unions.
    It’s very difficult to fight jobs cuts thru voluntary redundancy.
    Workers are not going to go on strike to fight for the jobs of people who want to take the money and go..
    Those who go will be good union members.
    The next step is to progressively replace them with inexperienced casualised workers.
    That is hard to fight – – – Not impossible – But difficult.
    New recruits are unlikely to come from that tradition of trade unionism that knows how to fight.

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