Posted 13th July 2012 | 5 Comments
Union claims '800 jobs at risk' on West Coast
THE RMT union is claiming that up to 800 jobs could be at risk on the West Coast intercity franchise, because on-board catering services are facing the axe when the next contract starts in December.
There has been speculation for some time that discussions have been taking place with the shortlisted West Coast bidders on whether catering services should be reduced or changed, but now the RMT has warned that a complete withdrawal is also possible. This would mean that 20 additional seats would replace the shop, and the service of complimentary meals in First Class would be withdrawn.
The union said it had discussed West Coast developments with Alstom, which built and maintains the Pendolinos, and that the possible withdrawal of all catering services had emerged during these talks. It also claimed that Alstom had confirmed that it has been discussing changes to the on-board configuration of the Pendolinos with all four bidders.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "It is disgraceful that bidders for the prestige West Coast route are looking at ripping out catering and shop facilities to cram in extra seats so that they can jack up profits at the price of both jobs and passenger service and we are calling for this scandalous suggestion to be killed off right now.
"We warned that this franchise was being let on 'McNulty Terms', where profiteering is rife and customers end up jammed into overcrowded, unstaffed trains and pay through the nose for the privilege. The confirmation of the rumours that catering is under threat backs up all the RMT warnings and we will work with politicians, campaign groups and the travelling public to throw out these proposals.”
However, Alstom denied that it has been discussing the details of the bids. A spokesman said: "We do not know about the future catering proposals of the West Coast Main Line franchise. There has been no meeting with the RMT on the subject.”
The present operator on the route, Virgin Trains, said it did not comment on matters connected with West Coast bids.
Four bidders are competing for the new franchise, which starts in December. They include Virgin, in partnership with Stagecoach Group. The others are Abellio, FirstGroup and a joint venture of Keolis and SNCF. The name of the winner is expected to be announced by the DfT in August.
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