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Exclusive: watch Network Rail bosses discuss ‘bribing’ workers to cross picket line during strike

Leaked video reveals government body’s plan to incentivise rail workers in attempt to break ‘once in a generation’ strike

Rail strikes on a scale not seen in decades are planned for this summer as workers fight back

A leaked video has revealed bosses at Network Rail (NR) confirming they plan to bribe workers to break strike action – and acknowledging that the planned strikes are on a scale ‘that hasn’t happened for a generation’ as workers fight back against more than a decade of exploitation and real-terms pay cuts.

Last week the TSSA union 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. The RMT has already scheduled three days of strike action next week. But while a union press release notes the NR management discussion and condemns the plans, the video itself is not shown. Skwawkbox has been able to obtain a copy for its readers.

In the leaked video 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” including extra time off:

Is there any truth in the rumour that those who do not strike will get double pay plus enhancements?

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.”

Part of the Network Rail discussion

NR has not made clear which roles are involved, but says in the video “we will be supporting financially the people who are covering key roles” in the Maintenance and Operations functions. 

The TSSA union, which represents the management grades that many of these payments are aimed at, has condemned what it calls a plan to bribe staff to betray colleagues and has rejected the ‘cynical’ approach from NR, registering a ‘failure to agree’ over the ‘efforts to impose strike breaking bribes’. A TSSA press release notes that the union has seen other communications that:

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. 

The press release quotes TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes: 

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.

Keir Starmer, meanwhile, has yet again failed to back the workers, saying during today’s Prime Minister’s Questions that he does not want the strike to proceed.

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    1. I agree Steve H…no ones suprised at your knights lack of support for ordinary people who are suffering under you Torys
      .I have a vinyl copy of jim reeves hit song ….. “released in 1959 “He will have to go” locked away in my abandoned farmhouse in Normandy.
      I hope soon to fly back to france and make a copy for the liberation of the labour party.
      I wonder when the covid passports will go so I can exercise my human rights?…whilst the Virus made the headlines the dengue fever took a grip on Cambodia and we are now in a epidemic of dengue fever killing children and the elderly…same with other deseases that have taken off whilst government across the globe ignored real sickness that kills like TB and poverty.No sign of covid here and the bloody obvious has been allowed to get a grip on the ordinary people Malaria,dengue and TB and even Typhoid and cholera have been flashing lights on the ignoring of the worlds health.The WHO have a lot to answer for in their handling of the covid pannick.Russia and China cant cure a real world virus or a leathel bacteria no matter who they attack.

      1. “Joseph – But that’s not what I said,”
        What’s sauce for the goose …………

    2. Is anyone surprised?

      That the greasy toerag shithouse said he doesn’t want the stroke to succeed?

      No. Not a bit of it.

  1. When reporting or discussing any strike action it’s rare to have the employer under the microscope, their history and who is making the money out of the business
    Train drivers by sheer incompetence of employers ended up doing very well, I dont think they would begrudge a real boost to those further down the pay scale
    I remember when pay rises were in pounds shillings and pence not %
    A £40 a week rise across the board will make the biggest difference to those who most need it
    Is an example of what we need to get back to

    1. Many moons ago I worked for a large engineering multi-national and right across the workforce they alternated pay rises each year between a percentage and a flat increase.
      It worked very well and stopped the pay differentials between the very highly skilled, the unskilled and everything in-between from getting out of hand. It was negotiated with all the unions and everybody seemed to be happy including those at the top of the pay scale who lost out using this system compared to a system of straight percentage increases.
      I fondly remember being impressed by Bill Jordan when he visited the works and gave a speech to the shop floor.

  2. Yes the bosses aided by the Right Wing media and Tories (as lightweight right wing Labour cower?) are focussing on the train drivers because they are well paid (thanks to unions) to try to divide working people and set public opinion against the strike.
    But as the RMT point out 40+ rail occupations are involved and it is much broader than pay so support the rail workers 100%!
    And take rail into public ownership with staff & communities having a say (have rail users councils can councils) and end stuffing the mouths of shareholders with gold.
    With public ownership we get what we decide, with private rail we get what we are given!
    Solidarity with rail unions!

  3. Nice to know they can’t (won’t) pay for pay rises, but can find the cheese for scabs to have double time…

  4. The following article on Counterpunch is not entirely unrelated:

    ‘The Great British Privatization Heist, Some Notes’ by Kenneth Surin

    I’ve just read a detailed report, titled “The Great Train Robbery”, on UK rail privatization from its beginnings in 1994 to 2012. Essentially– and this is the model followed by all the UK’s privatized enterprises– the newly privatised railway companies positioned themselves, with John Major’s Tory government’s explicit connivance, to limit risk to profits and maximize their ability to extract “value” (a polite word for ripping-off customers to expedite to the utmost dividends paid to shareholders, who are in the case of the UK railways are mostly multinational conglomerates, when they are not foreign governments). Foreign companies also dominate British water.

    In other words: these profits are politically constructed, especially since from the inception of its privatization the railway system receives a bigger state subsidy compared to the days when it was state-owned.

  5. ‘Mexican president slams NATO policy in Ukraine’

    Mexico’s president has slammed NATO’s policy on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, calling it “immoral.”

    López Obrador said Monday that the allies’ policy was equivalent to saying “I’ll supply the weapons, and you supply the dead. It is immoral.”

    “How easy it is to say, ‘Here, I’ll send you this much money for weapons,” Lopez Obrador said. “Couldn’t the war in Ukraine have been avoided? Of course it could.”

  6. Bono “Cant stand the attempt at music,or his attempt at bringing religious beliefs into his support for a nasty little Nazi like the Miami showman called saint of Keiv .whos destroying the Ukraine and sacrificing young men and women in the frontline against the Russian bear.We all know the ending with thousands killed and the loss of the industrial part of Ukraine for peace with Russia..Absolutely a carnage so easy to predict as driving Russia into a corner by Nato forces and giving them no alternative other than fight back on their own doorstep or be destroyed by Nato expansion.Sweden and Finland beware of false promises,whilst those who stoke the flames give away your country.

    1. Joseph – Don’t be ridiculous, do you think that your hero Putin would have been stupid enough to invade Ukraine if they still had nuclear weapons.

      1. That seems a clear enough statement that you don’t consider Russian speaking Ukrainians have the right to self defence (& assistance from their neighbour) from eight years of war crimes against them from the authoritarian nazi regime you are cheerleading for steveH.

        Thanks for making that clear to us all.

    2. Joseph, NATO poked the bear and got more than it bargained for, and now all they can do is send missiles into residential areas in the Donbas out of spite because they’ve lost this pointless war. Russia knew what was coming and was well prepared for it. Come winter the EU will be pleading for Russian gas and oil. And in the US petrol will be $10 a gallon. Serves them right.

      1. I think that the gas/oil pressure is hitting hard already. The German Chancellor has accused Russia of “putting up the price of oil”. He clearly doesn’t understand the “free market” system that his government signed up to decades ago. The price of commodities is governed by “the market” not by any individual country. That market isn’t working to the advantage of Germany at the moment and he’ll just have to live with it – just as the world’s poor have had to live with the consequences of the “free market” for decades.

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