A ROW has broken out between Northern Rail and rail union RMT after the union claimed the contents of a leaked email suggested the company had a “cavalier and dangerous disregard for safety”.
Northern Rail said the email, sent last month by a company director following strike action over a pay and re-grading dispute, had been deliberately misrepresented by RMT.
The union alleged the phrase “covering up the technical failures” included in the email sent to managers showed staff had been coerced into cutting corners when maintenance drivers in Leeds and Newcastle went on strike.
But Adrian Thompson, Norther Rail HR director, said: “It is extremely disappointing to see the RMT indulging in groundless scaremongering and malicious false allegations. It is this type of behaviour that is resulting in their members losing money through needless strike action instead of their representatives taking part in meaningful discussion.
“The alleged ‘leaked email’ was a thank you from the leadership team to all engineering employees for delivering a good service for customers.
“Through their genuine hard work, on the day in question no services were cancelled as a result of engineering issues, despite the RMT’s attempts to jeopardise this through pointless ongoing industrial action. Any allegation by the RMT that this somehow relates to safety issues is a slur against its own members and their colleagues.
“Had RMT representatives chosen to acknowledge the context of the email and the language used that is common to railway employees, the term ‘covering up’ referred to making the best use of our available trains.
“This means that where a train needs to be taken out of service to be fixed, we will bring in a spare train, or one not planned to be used until later, to ‘cover’ those services to avoid cancellations and disruption to customers.”
RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “From the information that RMT has seen this appears to amount to a cavalier and dangerous disregard for the safety of both staff and the public in pursuit of a campaign to break the will of RMT members in dispute with Northern Rail over the botched re-grading exercise.”