The government has come under attack from rail union leaders and the Department for Transport have been accused of having a “Stalinist obsession.”
Officials from three unions singed out Grant Shapps when they gave evidence at the Transport Select Committee on Wednesday.
The unions have accused Ministers of driving the continued dispute by blocking deals to resolve the row over jobs, pay and conditions.
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), said the long-running dispute has been “conceived” by the Department for Transport (DfT).
Lynch told MPs, “This is Shapps’s project – the dispute has been bequested to the rest of us to sort out.”
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The RMT chief told the committee that “loads of damage” has been done to the UK’s railway because of the government.
He added, “The damage is conceived and controlled in the Department for Transport.
“This is their project, they knew that there would be an industrial response from the trade unions, they decided to make what they would think was a great leap forward and provoke the workforce and attack the workforce.
“So the damage has been envisaged in Whitehall by people who know very little about the railway.
“Rather than try to get consent and evolution of the railway, they went for this great leap forward and it’s blown up in their faces.”
Lynch then claimed the DfT has a “Stalinist obsession about central control,” the RMT chief added, “What we get from the DfT is provocations, provocations in language and also what is put into the documents.
“You can also see in the way they run the railway, when there is a Network Rail strike they shut Scotland and they shut large parts of Wales, and they choose to run the parts that connect to England – it’s quite cynical, in my view.”
Mick Whelan, who is the general secretary of the Aslef train drivers’ union, was asked by the committee how close, on a scale of one to 10, they are to a resolution.
He told MPs, “I think you can include zero. We’re further away than when we started.”