RAIL union RMT slammed the government yesterday for gifting a “Christmas bonus” to chaotic Southern Rail bosses by allowing them to provide replacement buses in the latest “strike-breaking PR stunt.”
Tory Rail Minister Paul Maynard confirmed that the government was considering alternative transport — such as buses — while rail workers were on strike.
The plans would see Southern owners Go-Ahead provide replacement buses, which RMT claims would see the company effectively paid twice for its failure.
The union condemned the proposals as basically providing a “taxpayer-funded Christmas bonus” to the “worst-performing rail service in Britain.”
It accused the government of engaging in PR stunts while ignoring its offer of a “Christmas truce” which would see strike action suspended.
It was revealed on Tuesday that Tory MPs have been lobbying ministers to deploy soldiers as strike-breakers to drive the replacement services with 4,000 troops reported to be on stand-by.
They claim that it would be similar to the “green goddess” fire engines that were used by the army in the firefighters’ dispute in 2002.
Tory MP for East Worthing and Shoreham Tim Loughton said: “Bringing in troops to help with alternative transport seems to be an obvious thing that we should be doing.
“When you have an ambulance or fire engine strike you bring in the ‘green goddesses’ fire engines. We need the same for rail strikes.”
But RMT general secretary Mick Cash called on Prime Minister Theresa May “to focus the government’s efforts on strike solving, not PR stunts and strike breaking.
“The basis of a settlement is in RMT’s proposal for a Christmas truce … which guarantees a second safety-critical member of staff on their trains.”
And he criticised plans to line the pockets of Southern bosses. He said: “As each week of this fiasco goes by the taxpayer is losing millions of pounds in lost revenue while GTR’s owners continue to get paid and are laughing all the way to the bank.
“Now we know that not only are Southern’s owners being paid to lay on bus replacement services they are also set to get a Christmas bonus from implementing Theresa May’s PR stunt.”