21 June 2021
RMT Press Office:
As industrial action continues on the Caledonian Sleeper and ScotRail RMT condemns the Scottish Government’s veil of secrecy over fees for profits paid to operators Serco and Abellio.
RAIL UNION RMT is today demanding that the Scottish Government come clean over how much has been paid so far in performance and management fees to fund profits for the private rail operators of the ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises under their Covid-19 Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs), after it was revealed that the Scottish Government has backtracked from its commitment to publish this information in April 2021.
Both Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper have been operating under EMAs since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020. The terms of the initial EMA, which covered the period March – September 2020, permits the operators to receive management and performance fees worth up to 2% of the pre-pandemic franchise cost base.
In March 2021, in response to a parliamentary question, the Scottish Government stated that the fee payments for the initial EMA period had been ‘determined following a full financial reconciliation at the end of 2020’ and would be published online in April 2021. However, the Scottish Government failed to meet this commitment.
A further parliamentary question tabled by Richard Leonard MSP and answered on the 16th June, makes clear that the Scottish Government is now trying to kick this issue into the long grass, and merely states that the fees will be published ‘in due course’.
RMT believes that this lack of transparency around the fees, which are funded from public money, suggests that the Scottish Government is attempting to avoid scrutiny over this issue at a time when frontline workers at both Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper are taking industrial action in fights over pay justice.
RMT believes it is even more astonishing that the Scottish Government is refusing to say how much Abellio and Serco have so far received in fees, when the Westminster Government published the fees paid to Train Operators in England under their EMAs many weeks ago.
RMT estimates that Dutch state owned Abellio could have made fees in excess of £8 million during the initial six-month EMA and Serco over £600,000 during the same period and believes this is more than enough to settle the disputes many times over. RMT believes that it is high time the Scottish Government removed its veil of secrecy and came clean over how much these private operators have been handed.
General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“It is scandalous that the Scottish Government is still refusing to say how much the private rail operators in Scotland have received in fees for profits under their Emergency Measures Agreements, despite its commitment to publish these figures in April 2021. What’s even more astonishing is this corporate cover up is even worse than that practiced by the Westminster Government who published the fees paid to Train Operators in England under their EMAs many weeks ago.
“RMT members at ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper are taking industrial action in their ongoing fights for pay justice and it is clear that the Scottish Government is trying to kick into the long grass how much has been paid in fees to the private operators during the Covid-19 pandemic as we believe the profits being made are more than enough to settle these disputes many times over.
“This complete failure of transparency makes clear it is one rule for these essential workers and one rule for the big business private operators.
“It’s time to cut corporate profits to increase rail workers pay and RMT is demanding that the Scottish Government stops dragging its feet and comes clean about how much has been paid in fees for profits to Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper.”
- The Parliamentary Questions referenced are:
Graeme Dey: It was Transport Scotland’s intention to publish the Emergency Measures Agreements 1 (March – September 2020) performance and management fee values for (a) Abellio ScotRail and (b) Serco Caledonian Sleepers Ltd in April 2021.
- RMT estimates for management and performance fees for Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper for the initial EMA (March – Sept 2020), based on ORR data for the franchise cost bases for 2018-19 are:
|TOC||Annual cost base 2018-19 (m)||2% management & performance fee 6 months|
|Serco Caledonian Sleeper||£61,000,000||610,000|