TSSA are the white collar transport union* who have been leading the drive for Network Rail to come clean about six-figure discrimination payments made to former members of staff several years ago.
It emerged in recent reports that some of the departees had made claims about a senior director of the rail operator allegedly involving highly inappropriate behaviour.
The director in question was investigated but no action was deemed necessary.
Network Rail aren’t being very forthcoming about why the payments were made. “I’m not going into the question beacuse these are confidential (agreements)”, says a spokesman. “I can’t get into individual cases at all.”
Separately, TSSA is keen to know what payment was received by Iain Coucher, chief executive, and Victoria Pender, head of government affairs, for their role in setting up Network Rail. The pair’s private company, Coucher Pender – which is now dormant – received a bonus after the group was successfully established from the ashes of Railtrack. The size of the payment seems to be a mystery.
Jim Devine MP**, who has been asking questions in Parliament on behalf of TSSA, has demanded to know how big – or small – it was.
No one seems very keen to give the answer. Network Rail said: “I don’t have that to hand at the moment.” It suggested calling the Department for Transport.
The DfT said the payment was made by the Strategic Rail Authority. But it had no details. “We don’t have records of how much was paid. It was seven years ago so….”
This lack of disclosure does seem to be a curious by-product of Network Rail’s structure, whereby it is a private company but backed by public money. The group does not have to respond to Freedom of Information requests, for example.
* TSSA’s critics accuse it of waging a bitter campaign against Network Rail because of job cuts at the operator. The union denies this.
** (UPDATE) Worth pointing out that Mr Devine now has some other issues on his plate, namely questions about his expenses. He is to be dragged in front of Labour’s ominously-named “star chamber”, according to this report.