RAIL UNION RMT will fold a further day of action tomorrow, Saturday 14th February, as the union set out a list of key points that it is seeking urgent assurances over from First Group on their Great Western route over the introduction of the new Inter-City Express trains with a clear warning that a failure to secure a satisfactory response will lead to the declaration of an industrial dispute and a move towards a ballot for action.
Meanwhile new research shows that less than a third of all FGW passengers support proposals to axe the over the counter buffet bar service according to a survey by the respected independent polling organisation Survation.
The poll also found that Less than 1 in 5 passengers on First Great Western trains support a Driver Only Operated service and 77% passengers say they are concerned about the safety of travelling on trains if they no longer have an on-board train Guard.
At the same time over 50 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion condemning the proposed cuts and demanding that the government do not sign off any contract with First Great Western in the next few weeks that axes safety critical rail jobs and introduces Upstairs Downstairs catering.
The next phase of action will take place this Saturday, 14th February 2015, at Bath Spa, Reading and Paddington from 09.30hrs
RMT has made it clear yet again to both First Great Western and East Coast, where the new Inter-city Express trains are due to be rolled out, the areas where assurances must be bolted down:
• To keep a safety competent guard on every train –not a diluted customer service role
• To keep full buffet car facilities and catering services
• Maintaining station staffing levels including safety critical station dispatch staff
• No job losses or dilution of current roles or creation of new job roles with inferior terms and conditions
• To bring depot, turn-around and on-board cleaning in-house.
· To maintain the job security of our members working in the current fleet engineering depots where TUPE and the principles of job security apply
The failure of the companies to come to terms with the union on these crucial issues will lead to an immediate dispute situation with RMT.
RMT has been campaigning for months to fight plans that could lead to the axing of buffet cars, on-board staff and maintenance workers on First Great Western and East Coast when the new trains arrive, with a series of events in response to the moves which the union has blasted as “ushering in an “Upstairs-Downstairs” service on Inter-City services while British passengers pay the highest fares in Europe.” Over 50 MP’s have now signed the Early Day Motion backing RMT’s position.
RMT has been battling against the proposals for driver only operation and the removal of buffet cars and their replacement by a trolley service only catering facility, the sacking and reducing of the safety critical operational role of train guards /conductors as well as station de-staffing and ticket office closures. The union has also objected to proposals that could see the loss of skilled safety critical train maintenance and engineering jobs as part of the deal.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said ;
“RMT is far from happy with the vague statements coming out from First Group over the future of catering services, train crew and engineering jobs as a result of them being gifted a whole fleet of new inter-city trains courtesy of the tax-payer and the fare-paying public. RMT is demanding direct answers and firm assurances rather than the ambiguous waffle that has been issued to staff. We are tired of the game-playing and have now tabled a clear list of areas that require urgent answers. If those answers and assurances are not forthcoming we will declare a dispute and begin preparations for a ballot for action.
“Saturday will see more action from RMT activists at Bath Spa, Reading and Paddington as we take the campaign up another notch.
“This Government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich seem hell-bent on introducing an “Upstairs-Downstairs” service on Britain’s long haul rail services which would condemn the vast majority to pay through the nose to travel in rammed-out carriages where the catering trolley is jammed at one end while the elite glide through the country like extras from Downton Abbey . This move has got the stamp of Cameron, Osborne and the posh boys from the Bullingdon Club plastered all over it. RMT believes that all rail users deserve a high quality service and that means employing the staff to deliver that rather than cutting corners to maximise profits and targeting what’s left at the rich.
“RMT is throwing it’s full resources and industrial and political clout behind the fight to stop this attack on jobs, services and safety arising from the introduction of the Inter-City fleet on both the East Coast and the Great Western routes. These new Hitachi trains have been explicitly commissioned by the Government to allow the sacking of on-board staff, the axing of buffet cars and have left a question mark hanging over the future of the existing maintenance depots. “