Union says ‘Take Network Rail fines out of managers' bonuses'

30 March 2007

ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman today called for fines imposed on Railtrack/Network Rail to be taken from the bonuses of senior managers. The company was fined £4 million for the irresponsibility that led to the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster, in which 31 people were killed, 227 people were hospitalised and a further 296 people were treated at the site of the crash.

‘If the managers are not fined personally, it means the fines will be paid by the public,’ he said. ‘This would be a terrible injustice to passengers who would end up having to pay for being killed, maimed and injured.’

Keith points out that Network Rail is funded by the taxpayer. It then collects access charges from operating companies and says that any profits ‘go straight back into improving the railway’.

‘That’s not quite true,’ Keith says. ‘A considerable amount goes to paying salaries. In 2006 this included £504,000 for Chairman John Armitt, £450,000 for Iain Coucher and £335,750 each for Peter and Ron Henderson.

‘And then there are the bonuses for efficiency – Mr Armitt received a £352,720 bonus last year - and this time it is expected he will pocket in excess of £400,000.’

Keith says that the £4 million will simply go on a ‘cruel merry-go-round’.

‘The fine imposed will come out of company funds and be paid to the government – that effectively owns the company!

‘So the only people to suffer from the fine will be the travelling public – because the fine will mean that the company has less to spend on the rail infrastructure of this country.

‘In short – they make literally fatal mistakes – and you suffer for it.’

Keith Norman says this is clearly unjust and argues, ‘The obvious thing would be to insist that the money for the fine does not lessen the amount available for rail infrastructure. It should, in my view, come from funds that were not going to be used for this purpose.

‘I propose that it is taken from the bonuses that are being paid to board members.

‘If they can’t live on salaries approaching half a million pounds a year they should make way for people who can.

‘No bonuses should be contemplated until the whole amount of the fine has been repaid from this source.’

Keith also insists that the case underlines the urgent need for legislation on corporate manslaughter that has real teeth and will act as a serious deterrent to those who fail to conform to established safety regulations.

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