Budget disappoints working and retired rail workers

30 June 2005

Keith Norman, the acting General Secretary of ASLEF, says that the Budget is a disappointment for all the union's members, both those in work and those who have retired.

‘Transport and mobility are central to this country’s economy,’ he said, ‘Yet I searched the Chancellor’s statement in vain for any mention of rail."

"How on earth are we to reconcile this with a government that only last week was announcing an election pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20%? 

‘Many ASLEF members were expecting the government’s stated environment policy to be given some hard-cash backing today to encourage a move from road to rail. 

‘The fact that rail travel has been completely ignored hardly encourages an image of joined-up government.’ 

The union is particularly disappointed that the only mention of public transport is a reference to offering free local bus travel for pensioners sometime next year.

"Retired people are senior citizens, not second rate citizens,’ Keith says. ‘Does the government think they don’t merit the extravagant luxury of travelling by train?’ He also points out that the ‘concession’ will be a mystery to most UK pensioners who already receive free bus passes as a right.

The union says that its retired members will also be disappointed with the ‘smoke and mirrors’ announcement about 13% increases.

"The first impression was that the Chancellor was talking about 13% increases in pensions. This we would have welcomed. But in fact it is 13% increases in pension credits, which amounts to something like 25 p 
a week. This disappointment is not going to be off-set by the gesture of handing them £4 a week off their council tax.’

ASLEF National Organiser Andy Reed added that “it was not only mean-spirited, but politically very dangerous.

‘It seems rather foolish to offer 11 million pensioners such a small share of the nation’s wealth a month away from a probable General Election,’ he said.

‘The Chancellor could end up paying dearly for his neglect of pensioners.

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