The war of words between the main rail union and the government has stepped up, with a top RMT official describing the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, as “a snake-oil salesman”.
It follows Mr Shapps telling parliament that the union wishes “to drag the railway back to the 1970s”.
The transport secretary said: “They are employing the tactics of bygone unions: deflecting accountability for their strikes on to others; attempting to shift the blame for their action, which will cause disruption and damage to millions of people; and claiming that others are somehow preventing an agreement to their negotiation.”
But on the first day of the biggest rail strike since 1989, Eddie Dempsey, senior assistant general secretary of the RMT, told The Independent: “I’m afraid Grant Shapps couldn’t lie straight in bed. He’s a snake-oil salesman, he’s been lying to the British public, he’s been lying to Parliament.
“A lot of what the government is saying is lunatic hyperbole and incendiary remarks. They don’t want a settlement.
“The government is stripping billions out of our industry at the same time as protecting profits in the industry, a lot of it going to tax havens, and telling our members they’ve got to lose their jobs and tighten their belts.
“We think that’s a disgrace, and we’re prepared to fight to make sure our members have got job security and a pay rise. So if we can get that settlement these strikes will be called off.”
In a revelation about the warmth of the relationship between the union and the management of Network Rail and the train operators, Mr Dempsey told The Independent the employers had conducted themselves “with grace”.
He said: “I have to say people on the industry side of this dispute have been conducting themselves properly, and if you listen to their statement it’s quite measured, but Grant Shapps is holding the pen. So until he lets go of it, we can’t reach a settlement and the disputes will remain on.”
Mr Shapps’s speech to parliament added: “We have seen union leaders use all the tricks in the book to confuse, to obfuscate and to mislead the public.
“I do not think the public will be hoodwinked.”
Further strikes are set for Thursday 23 and Saturday 25 June. Disruption to services will continue until Sunday 26 June.
Source Link Grant Shapps is ‘a snake-oil salesman,’ says union boss