Support safety and the rail strikes….
Once again, Gordon Brown has made an ill-advised intervention into an industrial dispute. He said the:
government “cannot tolerate large-scale industrial disputes” at a time when the UK was coming out of the recession.
He also added there was ‘no reason’ for the proposed national rail strike. At the heart of the dispute are proposals to cut 1,500 jobs and changes which would see more work being done in the evenings and weekends. It seems like common sense to me that this would have safety implications but the likes of Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman, have called this claim ‘scaremongering’ and criticised the strike.
Safety on the railways is, of course, a crucial issue and though strikes will disrupt passengers journey’s I think it’s safe to say that disruption is preferable to one caused by a fatal crash or incident. If neither Brown nor Baker will listen to union members (who given the fact they work on them have a right to claim they know better than politicians and managers) maybe they will take heed of the Office of Rail Regulation.
In a recent report it supported Network Rail’s changes ‘in principle’ but expressed concern about implementation:
It outlined four issues: that the changes are untested; that the west coast line could be severely affected; that section managers, who monitor sections of track, might be overworked; and that the changes could encourage staff to curtail planning and safety briefings.
In other words it has similar concerns to the ones the unions are raising and totally dismantle the Brown argument that there is ‘no reason’ for these strikes. Once again, as a Labour Prime Minister, Brown is not being impartial or neutral (something that could be forgiven and understood as a political expedient) but actively crossing the line and taking the opposite side. This is wrong and has to stop because for all the good work being done it runs the risk of undermining it and Labour’s electoral chances.