Attacks on FCC drivers are ‘misplaced’, says GS
12 Nov 2009
Drivers in First Capital Connect have this week, without encouragement from the union, chosen to exercise their right not to work on their rest days. Many have been incensed by the company offering no pay increase this year, something that will be the subject of an industrial relations vote later this month. Meanwhile the general secretary has defended these train drivers from ‘ludicrous attacks by politicians who have nothing better to do with their time than fill in expense accounts’.
Keith was especially annoyed with the comments of transport minister Chris Mole in the House of Commons this morning. ‘He laid into these train drivers as being ‘irresponsible’, which is exactly what you’d expect from a Conservative spokesperson. But he’s supposed to be Labour.
‘In which case we might expect him to talk about the irresponsibility of a company that earns £100 million from its rail arm and then seeks to lower the real income of the people who made those profits. Isn’t that irresponsible?
Keith says that the level of political debate on the issue has been ‘pathetic’. ‘We’d have this sorted in no time if they put as much effort into seeking a solution as they do polishing a sound-bite.’
He said the Liberal Democrat’s condemnation of the situation as ‘a 1970s-style industrial dispute’ demonstrated staggering industrial ignorance. The Tories accusations of ‘irresponsible game-playing’ he said were as ludicrous as they were predictable.
Keith said he regretted the way that, encouraged by the media, large sections of the public decided that in every industrial dispute, working people are always to blame.
'The company has brought all these problems on itself,’ he declared. 'Doesn't anyone condemn irresponsible managers?'
Speaking on the BBC this morning, ASLEF’s Mick Whelan said ‘People withdrew their goodwill on overtime on an individual basis because of what is seen as a rather derisory pay offer,’ adding that the union had been arguing for two years for full employment, and having the right number of drivers in place.’