Railway workers were denied pay rises and told they ‘should have worked harder in school’ Business

Tens of thousands of railway workers have been told they “probably should have worked harder in school” after missing out on a pay rise.

A communications chief for Network Rail, the taxpayer-backed owner of Britain’s stations and tracks, was forced to apologize for the remarks on an internal social media website.

Nicky Hughes told the company’s 40,000 employees that companies “compete for managers” and “pay accordingly”.

“It’s a lesson for those of us who probably should have worked harder in school,” she said.

The comments come just days after militant union bosses pledged to launch the ‘biggest strike in modern history’ at the railways this summer over job cuts and wage freezes.

Ms Hughes’ remarks, made last week on the company’s Yammer social media website, sparked fury among Network Rail employees.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, is one of the highest paid civil servants in the UK with a salary of between £585,000 and £589,999 a year. He did not, however, receive a pay rise last year.

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association general secretary Manuel Cortes said the post showed “how desperately out of touch the big cats in the business are”.

“It is insulting to suggest that workers should have worked harder in school, rather than acknowledging the very real cost of living issues that people suffer when their wages do not keep up with inflation,” he said. -he declares.

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Lynch called it a ‘desperate and futile attempt by Network Rail to dissuade our railway members from voting in this upcoming strike ballot’.

Network Rail said the message had been “misinterpreted”. Ms Hughes, communications director for the Wales and West region, later issued an apology, saying she was “sincerely sorry”.

She said she “referred to myself”. “I am very aware, as the single child of a single parent, who grew up in a difficult area and dependent on free clothing vouchers and free school meals, that life is not so easy or simple for many people for many many reasons”.

Network Rail, the state-backed owner of stations and tracks, plans to cut more than 2,500 frontline maintenance workers, the union said. Staff will also be hit with a pay freeze despite soaring inflation. Prices are rising at 7%, the highest rate in 30 years, with economists warning the worst is yet to come in the coming months amid the UK’s worst ‘cost of living crisis’ in years 1970.

The Rail, Marine and Transport Workers’ Union (RMT) opened a month-long industrial action ballot on Tuesday.

Network train and rail operators are under pressure from the Treasury to cut costs after the Treasury spent £15billion to keep rail services running during the pandemic. Frontline rail staff have avoided being furloughed – and an associated 20% pay cut – in stark comparison to many other industries.

Passenger demand has rebounded to around 70% of pre-pandemic levels, meaning the wider rail industry needs to find around £3billion in annual savings to balance the books.

Union bosses say Network Rail wants to cut 2,500 frontline jobs. Meanwhile, train operators are making plans to sweep up closed ticket offices and force passengers to use contactless systems similar to London’s Oyster card.

Network Rail Regional Director Tim Shoveller said earlier this month: “Our railway has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and although passenger numbers are starting to recover, we know that travel habits and passenger demand have changed and the industry needs to change too. We cannot continue to rely on government handouts, so we must work with rail operators and our unions to save millions of pounds and deliver a more efficient railway.

Mr Lynch said: “Railway operating companies praised our members for being key workers during the pandemic, but refused to keep staff pay in line with inflation and the soaring cost of living. .”

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This notice was published: 2022-04-27 17:50:25

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