Train strike talks going BACKWARDS as unions accuse ministers of 'sabotaging' talks

Mick Whelan, Frank Ward and Mick Lynch all hit out at the Government
Mick Whelan, Frank Ward and Mick Lynch all hit out at the Government

Officials from three unions singled out Grant Shapps for criticism

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Rail unions have launched a scathing attack on the Government, accusing them of “sabotaging” pay dispute talks.

Officials from three unions singled out Grant Shapps for criticism when they gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said the conflict was “conceived” by the Department for Transport (DfT).

He told the committee: “The is Shapps’s project - the dispute has been requested to the rest of us to sort out.”

Frank Ward, interim general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) accused Mr Shapps of being “non-existent”.

Mr Ward claims he had written to the transport secretary in a bid to arrange talks.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Aslef train drivers’ union, was asked to say how close, on a scale of one to 10, the situation was to a resolution.

He replied: “I think you can include zero. We’re further away than when we started.”

Grant Shapps came in for criticism from the union leaders
Grant Shapps came in for criticism from the union leaders

Mr Lynch added: “We haven’t got an agreement. Until we get an agreement we’re not close to it.”

Mr Lynch and Mr Whelan made it clear that their unions would never accept driver-only operation (DOO) on the railways.

The RMT boss told the committee that “loads of damage” had been done to the railway because of the Government.

“The damage is conceived and controlled in the Department for Transport.

“This is their project, they knew that there would be an industrial response from the trade unions, they decided to make what they would think was a great leap forward and provoke the workforce and attack the workforce.

“So the damage has been envisaged in Whitehall by people who know very little about the railway.

“Rather than try to get consent and evolution of the railway, they went for this great leap forward and it’s blown up in their faces.”