Community Rail says “commerce union intransigence” is obstructing the modernisation of the railways and says the 1,850 job losses it’s proposing might be managed by means of early retirements.
A 3-day nationwide prepare strike by the Nationwide Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Employees (RMT) commerce union is inflicting chaos for commuters, and far of the nation has had no rail service in any respect, together with most of Scotland and Wales and the entire of Cornwall and Dorset.
Though the strike is partly about pay—the RMT has demanded a 7 p.c pay rise to deal with the cost-of-living disaster—it’s also about job losses and is a giant check for individuals who search to introduce a extra automated workforce in Britain, with The Occasions of London columnist Iain Martin referring to the RMT as “dinosaurs.”
The RMT, which referred to as 40,000 members out on strike this week, stated it was against plans to “lower 1000’s of jobs throughout the rail community whereas not giving a assure of no obligatory redundancies,” and “slicing security inspections on the infrastructure by 50 p.c to be able to facilitate mass redundancies.”
The RMT’s Normal Secretary, Mick Lynch, stated this week, “We’ll proceed with our industrial marketing campaign till we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job safety and a pay rise for our members that offers with the escalating price of residing disaster.”
However Community Rail’s Head of Media, Kevin Groves, stated it needed to chop 1,850 jobs out of the upkeep division’s 10,000-strong workforce. He added that there have been 2,000 vacancies throughout the entire organisation, with the age profile of many upkeep staff being over the age of fifty, and that the organisation believes there’s a “latent demand for early retirement.”
Groves instructed The Epoch Occasions, “We imagine there will likely be a job throughout the firm for everybody who needs one.”
RMT Accused of ‘Hype and Propaganda’
He accused the RMT of utilizing “hype and propaganda.”
However why does Community Rail—a public physique with no shareholders—wish to lay off 1,850 staff?
Groves stated it needs to modernise railway upkeep by introducing new expertise which is quicker and extra environment friendly.
He stated there have been three issues Community Rail was eager to press forward with—inspections, observe faulting drones, and distant situation monitoring (RCM)—however an “obstinate” RMT was refusing to debate them.
Groves stated in the case of inspections, at the moment a crew of males will exit and stroll the road in search of cracks in rails, lacking clips, or rotting sleepers.
“When they’re going down we now have to close down the road. However the expertise exists which might substitute these visible inspections. There’s very excessive definition (VHD) cameras which use plain line observe recognition AI software program,” he defined.
Groves stated: “Cameras are connected to trains that are in service and they’re connected to computer systems, which recognise discrepancies in what it’s seeing with what it must be seeing. It pings a marker and as soon as the prepare terminates it downloads to the engineering system and they are often checked later.
“With this method no one is at risk trackside and it’s extra correct than the human eye and will be auto generated into the work programme,” he added.
‘Good Meters’ for Railway Factors
Groves stated RCM is a chunk of equipment which is connected to factors and different lineside gear and works in an identical solution to a sensible meter within the house.
“It sends again readings so you’ll be able to inform whether or not the factors are in good situation. So that you don’t want to come back out and ship an inspection staff,” he defined.
However he stated all of those require a proper session course of and added, “If the union needs to be obstinate they will indefinitely maintain it up.”
Groves identified that Community Rail just lately launched an inside app referred to as Blink, which works in an identical solution to WhatsApp for workers, however he stated it took 12 months to deliver it in due to the union.
The Epoch Occasions reached out to the RMT however they have been unavailable for remark.
‘Shortsighted and Harmful’ Cuts to Security Processes
However Robert Maisey, a coverage and campaigns officer with the Commerce Union Congress (TUC), instructed LabourList final month: “Cuts to Community Rail’s primary security processes are shortsighted and harmful. Community Rail took over from the non-public operator Railtrack after three main, deadly accidents resulted from its failures. And its present proposal would take us again to the identical insufficient ranges of upkeep with the lack of 627,000 hours of upkeep work a 12 months.”
Whereas Community Rail has stored upkeep of the tracks in-house it outsources renewal of the tracks and jobs like ballast cleansing to contractors like Balfour Beatty. Community Rail has invested £300 million ($367 million) in its excessive output machine fleet within the final decade, making it the third greatest on this planet.
Nonetheless, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps introduced in Might final 12 months plans to exchange Community Rail in 2023 with a brand new quango, Nice British Railways, as a part of a “30-year technique.”
Maisey wrote: “Some parts of the brand new Shapps/Williams plan are welcome—measures that improve total public management, for instance. However the proposals for Nice British Rail will go away the precise day-to-day working of the railways in non-public fingers. Whereas the central issues of poor integration and personal profiteering are acknowledged, they’re essentially unresolved.”