‘Grinch Shapps’ protest: ‘Toxic’ safety warnings from RMT Union over proposed South Western Railway cuts

Union members gathered outside Parliament to demonstrate against the South Western Railway (SWR) cuts planned from December next year.

Transport workers protesting proposed cuts to rail services have warned of a “toxic environment” and a “very worrying” impact on safety.

Union members gathered outside Parliament to demonstrate against the South Western Railway (SWR) cuts planned from December next year.

Protestors posed with a grinch mask and a Santa hat, calling on transport secretary Grant ‘Grinch’ Shapps to stop the cuts of between 13-14% of trains.

MPs including Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, joined the demonstration outside the House of Commons on Wednesday, December 15.

Labour MP Ben Bradshaw at the RMT protest. Photo: LondonWorld

While a dire warning of safety responsibilities being “pushed onto fewer and fewer people” was issued by a National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) activist.

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The activist, from Birmingham, who did not give his name, said: “It’s a wider issue of the cuts on the railway and what it actually means, in real terms, is safety is affected.

“More and more is pushed onto fewer and fewer people. It becomes a very toxic environment to work in.

“It’s all about cutting costs, cutting costs, and cutting costs. Until something happens nobody is ever listened to. It’s very, very worrying.”

The RMT protest against South West Rail cuts. Photo: LondonWorld

Pat Collins, RMT Birmingham branch manager, told LondonWorld: “Today is about proposed SWR cuts in conjunction with Network Rail that reduce peak time services by 14%.

“Reducing services at a time when we’re just been through COP26 and the environment is the key - what we need to be doing is investing in rail services, not cutting them.

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“The more people you try to cram in the more uncomfortable it gets. People get put off travelling by train.

“We’re here today to oppose these changes while they’re still in the planning stages.”

And RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We think this is the first installment of a campaign of austerity by Grant Shapps to cut back on our railways, to cut back on the service that we provide to the public.

“It’s vitally important that we stop these cuts and that we get behind the campaign to have a properly funded and properly staffed railway system in the UK.”

“Grant Shapps is behaving more like ‘Grinch Shapps’ and trying to steal our rail services at Christmas. We will not accept cuts to railway services or attacks to our members’ jobs, pay or conditions.”

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The Department for Transport (DfT) has been contacted for comment.