Tories scrap Leeds leg of HS2 – trade unions must take action

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Unite construction workers fighting for union rights on the HS2 – Unite have condemned the Tories scrapping of the Leeds leg as ‘industrial vandalism’

THE TUC, Unite, RMT, GMB, Aslef and TSSA all said yesterday that the Tories scrapping of the Leeds leg of the HS2 was a stab in the back for the working class.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The Northern Powerhouse Rail plan has been cut back beyond recognition.

‘By scrapping the HS2 Leeds branch and Manchester to Leeds line, this government has removed a lynchpin of the Northern Powerhouse. Around this hole, regional development plans will unravel. Plans that would have brought good jobs and greater prosperity.

‘The Midlands and the North have the talent to compete with the world. But they need the infrastructure to match. Yet again, there is a gulf between what the Prime Minister promises, and what he delivers.’

The RMT limited its analysis stating that what the Tories have done was a ‘betrayal of the north’ rather than in fact an attack on the whole working class to build up a huge privatised rail network.

General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘This government today confirmed what is a historic betrayal of the people of the north.

‘This plan will lead to a dramatic reduction in rail capacity that the HS2 Eastern leg and Northern Powerhouse Rail would have delivered, capacity that would have gone a long way to deliver the UK’s climate change commitments and hundreds of thousands of jobs on our railways and across the supply chain.

‘The government is trying to dress this up as a historic announcement, but no amount of government spin can disguise that this is a shocking kick in the teeth for the north of England.’

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: ‘This decision has put back national infrastructure planning by a generation.

‘It is nothing short of industrial vandalism.

‘By cancelling the HS2 spur to Leeds the government is demonstrating that it is simply not serious about its levelling up agenda and that its manifesto commitment to improving regional connectivity was nothing but hot air.’

Neil Derrick, GMB Regional Secretary for Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, said: ‘Cutting investment for a city like Bradford makes no sense, with one of the youngest workforces in Yorkshire.

‘The city would benefit for generations by having stronger links to Manchester and Leeds.

‘All of the government’s own sums show that if you put a pound of money into the economy by building things like railways, you get at least one pound out in the form of increased wages or economic growth.

‘This is economic vandalism pure and simple.’

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: ‘This is not levelling up, it’s levelling down.

‘We should be making public transport more attractive. But there are fewer trains running, staff are already facing redundancies and now they’re saying the north will not be getting the improvements they promised.’

Dave Wiltshire Secretary of the All Trades Unions Alliance said: ‘The Tories have shown that they are willing to spend billions to try and get support when in fact the railway system in the north is to remain neglected and privatised.

‘The question therefore is for the trade unions to take united action to defend the interests of the working class. That means a general strike to bring down the government, to bring back a state planned rail system and to unite the working class in the struggle for socialism.

‘What is happening on the railways is not a betrayal of the working class in the north but the Tories stabbing the entire working class in the back. That is why the TUC, Unite, RMT, GMB, Aslef and TSSA have opposed this plan.

‘At this point in time the trade unions are clearly stronger than the Tories so now is the time for the TUC and the entire trade union movement to call a general strike to bring down the Tories and renationalise the entire rail industry with a proper plan that will benefit the entire working class.

‘All the unions are agreed that this is a stab in the back for the working class so now is the time for the trade unions to act together and bring down the government and establish a workers’ government and renationalise the whole industry as part of a socialist planned economy in the UK.’