Rail workers inundate voluntary redundancy scheme – despite strikes over job cuts

A voluntary redundancy program for rail workers has been inundated with more than 5,000 applications, casting doubt on the rationale of union bosses for launching the most aggressive strike action in a generation.

Rail executives prompted requests for voluntary layoffs last fall as part of efforts to ease the burden on taxpayers caused by the pandemic.

Figures from The Telegraph show train operators have received 2,949 cancellation requests. Another 2,159 applied for the program to Network Rail, the government-backed track and station owner.

Although the number of voluntary redundancies requested by managers is closely monitored, applications to Network Rail are believed to have outnumbered spots by about two to one.

Meanwhile, the rail operators confirmed that “more people have expressed interest in the program than we could initially accept”.

Union leaders insisted that voluntary redundancy programs had only been offered to Network Rail executives.

Nonetheless, the number of motions released under the Freedom of Information Act challenges claims by “militant” union leaders that rail operators are enforcing unwanted job cuts to cut costs.

The figures also suggest that the organization spearheading the dispute – the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) – is now facing an existential crisis as members scramble to exit the UK rail sector.

Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines said: “We know there is a huge latent demand at Network Rail for people to leave and move on – it’s largely a question of age profile – and it could be unleashed by unions will.

“Without their flexibility we will not be able to achieve the savings that would allow us to open a voluntary redundancy scheme for their members. We hope they agree on some meaningful negotiations that could render any proposal for forced redundancies null and void.”

Between 40,000 and 50,000 RMT members will descend on the 21st, 23rd and 25th June, disrupting the Glastonbury Festival, Headingley Test match and those making their way to the Armed Forces Day celebrations on 25th June. Rail workers inundate voluntary redundancy scheme – despite strikes over job cuts

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