Network Rail overhead line engineers

UK: Plans to cut more than 900 management, professional and technical jobs were announced by Network Rail on February 4.

Tim Shoveller, Managing Director, North West & Central Region, said ‘our railway is in a financial crisis, reliant on government handouts to keep its head above water as passenger numbers continue to struggle to return to anything like normal.’

Shoveller said ‘we need to save millions of pounds and by working with our trades unions we hope to reduce the impact on our workforce. But it’s undeniable that management grades have grown disproportionately compared to the rest of the company in recent years. We hope that most roles to be lost will be through voluntary leavers and normal turnover, avoiding compulsory redundancies as far as possible.’

Responding to the news, the TSSA union said it would ‘not tolerate’ compulsory redundancies, and any attempt to use them would result in a dispute.

TSSA said more than 1 000 people had already taken voluntary severance, and several hundred applications had been rejected.

‘If NR at the behest of Tory ministers is looking to cut even more jobs, those who had already volunteered for voluntary severance but were rejected must be allowed to go’, said General Secretary Manuel Cortes. He added ‘don’t be fooled by the management grade title of the jobs NR want to cut. These staff are predominantly professional and technical staff who ensure the safe running of our railways.’

Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines told Rail Business UK that the reduction would bring the company’s headcount back to the levels of around 2017. He hoped that the cuts could be made by the elimination of duplicate roles and insisted that there was no intention to ‘hollow out’ the business or reduce the skills capability. More than 1 000 people who had applied for voluntary severance had seen their applications declined, while around 1 200 had been accepted, he explained.