A national rail strike is ‘very much on the cards’ for 2022, union says

The union is calling for guarantees that rail workers won’t be forced into redundancy ahead of a cost of living crisis

Rail workers could go on strike this year due to concerns over job cuts, with a leading union calling saying central government cuts will lead to forced redundancies.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association has raised concerns that workers in the rail industry will be forced out of jobs as a cost of living crisis looms.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Rail workers in one of the industry’s leading unions could go on a national strike this year, the union’s general secretary has warned
  • The TSSA is calling for an extension to a no compulsory redundancy agreement, which protects employees who wish to stay in the industry from forced redundancies
  • The industry is already set tot see a significant number of jobs lost to voluntary severance schemes, but unions say they’ve been told this won’t be enough to cover central government-enforced cuts worth £2bn
  • The union has said it will coordinate industrial action with sister unions “and any other workers fighting the Tories’ cost of living standards crisis”
  • Experts have warned that the public will face rising household costs over the next few months, as rising inflation and energy prices coincide with tax increases for many 

What’s been said?

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Our union has been crystal clear that any threat to use compulsory redundancies will be met with industrial action ballots.

“We wrote to rail bosses in November 2021 seeking assurances that the industry-wide no compulsory redundancy policy would continue to remain in place throughout 2022. Sadly, a new year has arrived and we are still waiting for the bosses to meet our union’s job security ask.

“We have been told that although thousands of people will be leaving employment within our rail industry during 2022 through voluntary severance, that this won’t be enough to deliver the £2 billion worth of cuts the Government is seeking.

“Our members are not just facing a cost-of-living crisis but also one of fractured industrial relations on our railways as the twin threats of compulsory redundancies and falling living standards loom large.

“We will of course seek to coordinate any industrial action with our sister rail unions and any other workers fighting the Tories’ cost of living standards crisis.

“A national rail strike in 2022 is very much on the cards.”

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group said: “Britain’s railway and rail workers continue to play a critical role during the pandemic and we thank them for their huge contribution.

“Like any industry hit by the pandemic we face tough financial challenges – money from fares has decreased by 80% from over £10bn to £2bn and the government is providing at least £24bn by 2025.

“To build back a railway which puts the needs of our changing passenger first, it is necessary to change the way the network is run and the rail network cannot take more than its fair share from the public purse.

“Rail companies want to work constructively with trade unions to ensure the railway is fit for the years and decades to come, delivers a genuinely improved passenger experience and which supports all parts of the country to thrive as we rebuild.”