Union boss Mike Lynch has said the government lorded rail workers as “heroes” during the pandemic, only to treat them as “out of fashion” now restrictions have lifted.
Speaking on BBC One’s Question Time, the head of the RMT union said: “We were lorded as heroes by Grant Shapps, they worked all the way through the pandemic, they were not furloughed, and they kept our railway and transport systems going.
“But what they’re being told now as a result of that, is that you’re out of fashion, you’re out of date, somehow the terms and conditions that we’ve negotiated over many years and we think are a fair deal…”
He added: “We think that’s what every worker in Britain, in every business should have. But what we’re faced with now is a clampdown. And it’s a deliberate clampdown by the government… and they’re using the temporary phenomenon of Covid as an excuse to rip out and strip out terms and conditions.”
The show, hosted by Fiona Bruce, comes after the union’s second day of industrial action this week over pay and working hours.
RMT is expected to strike again on Saturday 25 June, with warnings of further walkouts later in the summer.
Mr Lynch explained: “In some cases, the railway is saying to our members, you must have less wages going forward, not just against inflation but against existing salaries, and you must take a prescription which gives you extended working hours without compensation, five additional hours a week.”
He went on to denounce the government, as presenter Ms Bruce tried to interrupt, saying: “I regret that we haven’t got a government that will allow companies to negotiate with us and I regret that we have not been able to make an agreement.”