"Cynical and shocking": West Midlands Railway offers bonus to staff in cyber security test

  • Report by Amrit Gahir

A rail workers union has criticised West Midlands Railway, after an email was sent to hundreds of staff. It appeared to promise a bonus rewarding hard work during the pandemic. But it was actually a cybersecurity test instead.

The email was sent to more than 400 staff at the company in April 2021. It thanked them for their hard work and for the huge strain of the pandemic.

It went on to say they were being offered a one-off payment to say thank you, including a link with a personal message from the managing director. The email ended by saying it hoped that this gift will inspire you to keep up the good work.

The email, which looked like this, promised a one off payment for the staff's hard work during the pandemic.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association has dubbed it a "cynical and shocking stunt". They say West Midlands Railway were deliberately tricking their employees.

The union is demanding an apology for workers, who they say have been needlessly hurt by the email and what it appeared to promise.

"It has been an especially hard time for workers in public transport over the last year," says Matt Barrow from the The Transport Salaried Staffs Association. "I think our members are particularly upset that they were given the promise of recognition first and foremost, and the reward is secondary to that."

The company say the email was deliberately designed with the sort of language used by real cyber criminals. Credit: PA

In response to the criticism West Midlands Railway say they "take cybersecurity very seriously, providing regular training on the subject and running exercises to test resilience."

West Midlands Railway say there isn't any scope for discretionary payment or bonuses as all train operators have been funded directly by central government from the start of the pandemic.