Activists against the ‘dangerous’ possibility of 20,000 railway jobs being axed were campaigning at Manchester Piccadilly station today.
The operation was part of a nationwide campaign which saw 100,000 leaflets handed out throughout the country to commuters today.
The government proposals to reforms of the industry have been called ‘dangerous and damaging’ by a number of rail unions and the TUC who have joined for the Action for Rail campaign.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: “This Government, using the McNulty Rail Review as cover, is hell-bent on a policy of vandalising and de-staffing the railways regardless of the consequences for both staff and the travelling public.”
As part of cost-saving scheme laid out in the Rail Value for Money report led by Sir Roy McNulty, the government is asking train operating companies and Network Rail to save £3.5billion by 2018/19, £260million of which will come from staffing cuts.
The job losses will include rail guards, staff in ticket offices and on station platforms, catering staff and maintenance and signalling staff.
Although nothing has been officially released, leaked Department of Transport emails suggest that transport minister Theresa Villiers has signed off on many closures and financial negotiations with all but a couple of operators are final.
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Government vision of a rail industry with deserted stations, closed ticket offices and trains with no staff is one that appeals to train operators seeking to cut costs and maximise profits – but train passengers are appalled.”
“The public wants the help, reassurance and safety that rail staff provide, which is why so many passengers have responded to our campaign and have expressed their anger at the plans to cull the rail industry workforce.”
The McNulty Review calls for 750 small-staffed station booking offices around the UK being closed and the industry itself being 30% more efficient overall by 2018/19.
Rail performance minister Norman Baker said: “If we can do this, we can reduce the burden on taxpayers and put an end to the ear of above-inflation increases, as we are determined to do.”