8 March 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT accuses global facilities giant ISS of bullying and harassing staff in Kings Cross pay and conditions dispute.
RAIL UNION RMT today accused global facilities giant ISS of a campaign of bullying, harassment and intimidation as they try to force staff from outside of London to scab on a strike that will kick off on the Virgin East Coast contract at Kings Cross on Thursday.
ISS have been trying to force staff from Leeds to travel to London and stay overnight in a desperate attempt to undermine the Kings Cross action. Staff contracts state that they can only be requested to travel a “reasonable distance” to work, making a mockery of the attempt to drag workers all the way from Yorkshire to London. RMT is now considering a ballot of all ISS staff on the Virgin East Coast contract as the scabbing operation backfires on the company in spectacular style.
RMT has also demanded that Virgin, who hold the East Coast franchise, intervene with their contractors to end what the union describes as a “pay and conditions scandal at one of Europe’s busiest railway stations.”
RMT has set out a catalogue of grievances at the heart of the dispute that ISS refuse point-blank to address:
1. Workers being forced to use heavy backpacks that cause injuries under the threat of discipline and agency staff told to use them or they will be sacked or simply not required back .
2. People being underpaid on a weekly basis and being shown as working part-time on their wage slips, resulting in loans and mortgages not being granted due to poor credit rating.
3. Reduction in the number of staff Tanking (filling train up with water)resulting in trains going out with no water, with toilets being locked out of use, making a nonsense of the high fares that passengers fork out to travel on Virgin’s services.
4. Full time vacancies not being filled in a timely manner leading to the increased use of inexperienced agency staff as part of drive towards casualisation and hire and fire.
5. Workers, including an RMT rep, being suspended for refusing to work unsafely , riding roughshod over all agreements and procedures.
As a result of the hard-line, union-busting attitude of ISS towards the workforce RMT has confirmed strike action at Kings Cross from 7am on Thursday 10th March to 7am on Saturday the 12th March and is calling for demonstrations of support from across the trade union movement for this high-profile battle against a globalised, anti-union, out-sourcing outfit.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“The vicious attacks by ISS on key staff preparing Virgin trains at the world-famous Kings Cross station is a disgrace and stain on the reputation of this City and it’s transport services and must end. The fact that company are now trying to bully and intimidate staff miles up the line into undermining their colleagues action frankly stinks and those disgraceful antics must stop.
“Not only are RMT members being battered through a series of attacks on their pay and working conditions but passengers, paying eye-watering fares, are being hit as well as the cuts impact on the quality of service right down to the level of taking toilets out of service on these long haul routes.
“The mistreatment of staff by ISS at Kings Cross is a scandal and Virgin East Coast cannot simply wash their hands of this disgraceful situation that has been allowed to develop on their watch. Our members will be striking in a brave and unified battle against this global out-sourcing giant and they deserve the support of the wider trade union movement in this fight and RMT is in no doubt that the travelling public will be on our side as well.
“The union remains available for serious talks.”