GRANT Shapps shut rail union’s calls for the Government to intervene in negotiation as he claimed the RMT and Labour Party are using the lack of involvement as a “camouflage for the fact they have walked out of talks”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps accused the RMT rail union and the Labour Party of using the Government’s decision not to intervene in the negotiation talks between the union and Network Rail as an excuse after negotiators called it quits on negotiations. He pointed out that under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, the Government did not “meet with the firefighters and post office workers”, and added a meeting with the union “would make no difference, except to provide a bit of theatre”.
Mr Shapps told the BBC: “I write to the union, but I don’t typically meet with them.
“It’s a red herring.
“If I thought there was one in a million chance that it would make the slightest bit of difference, I would do so at the drop of a hat.
“The reality is they’re using it as a camouflage for the fact that they have walked out of these talks, which they should be in with their employers who have the full capacity and the mandate to make a settlement with them.
“They are refusing to do so.”
He reiterated: “I don’t meet with them because it is the job of the employers and the employers do meet with them.
“This is an excuse, a stunt actually, by the trade unions, somehow saying that if we could meet face to face, it makes all the difference.
“And I head Labours also saying I should meet with them.
“Under the Blair government, they didn’t meet with the firefighters.
“Under the Brown government, they didn’t meet with the post office workers.
“All of a sudden they’re saying it would make all the difference.
“Of course, it would make no difference at all, except to provide a bit of theatre which is really I think what they’re after.
“What they need to do is come back into the negotiations today with Network Rail and carry on negotiations and get this thing fixed.
“That’s what needs to happen.”
The claims came as late talks between the RMT union and Network Rail in the attempt to stop the strike failed to succeed.
The talks were held yesterday on Monday afternoon but failed to resolve the dispute over pay and redundancies.
In light of the unsuccessful negotiations, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch warned the industrial action will “run as long as it needs to run”.
He said: “Until they allow the employers to negotiate freely, I can’t see that we are going to get a settlement.
“Our campaign will run as long as it needs to run until we get a settlement acceptable to our people”.