A TRANSPORT chief’s anti-union rant sparked calls yesterday for an urgent government review into civil servants speaking at public events.
Department for Transport’s (DfT) rail passenger services director Peter Wilkinson told train drivers who resist changes to “get the hell out of my industry” at a public meeting in Croydon last week. He warned there would be “punch-ups” with drivers fighting changes to working hours and told the meeting, organised by Tory MP Gavin Barwell: “We have got to break them.”
Now shadow Civil Service minister Louise Haigh has tabled a question to the Cabinet Office and DfT following his “vitriolic” outburst. She said: “Trust in the Civil Service, in its impartiality and its competence is essential.
“That’s why it is astonishing that a senior civil servant could behave in such a partisan and vitriolic way in what appears to be a breach of Civil Service code.”
Ms Haigh has written to the Cabinet Office calling for it to “urgently review” the rules on civil servants attending events organised by MPs.
She also asked the government to “reassure the public” that the Civil Service ultimately serves the public and not the Conservative Party. Mr Wilkinson was forced to apologise for his comments following demands to do so by rail unions.
A DfT spokesman said: “It is right that Peter Wilkinson has apologised. He has a fine record of delivering a better railway for passengers and will continue to do.”