12 March 2021
RMT Press Office:
RMT set to declare dispute with Rail Gourmet as Edinburgh workers ill with Covid-19 are pursued for raising health and safety concerns.
RAIL UNION RMT has today condemned catering firm Rail Gourmet for pursuing members at their Edinburgh depot who have tested positive for Covid-19 to attend disciplinary hearings for raising related health and safety concerns while they are in isolation and suffering significantly from the effects of the illness.
The issue has emerged following an outbreak of Covid-19 at the depot which has resulted in 12 members of staff testing positive for the disease, with the Edinburgh depot closed until further notice. One of the employees under investigation for raising Covid related concerns is an RMT industrial representative.
The union is already preparing to ballot members for strike action at Paddington who are employed by Rail Gourmet working on their Great Western Railway (GWR) catering supply contract following the company’s decision to suspend a member of staff from duty after he raised similar Covid-19 health and safety concerns.
RMT is writing to Rail Gourmet to inform the company that it believes that it has developed a policy across the operation of disciplining members for raising genuine health and safety concerns and that unless the charges are dropped against the workers they will be in dispute with the company nationally.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
“A dozen catering workers at Rail Gourmet in Edinburgh have tested positive for Covid-19 but the company are only interested in their loss of revenue and silencing and disciplining hardworking staff who dare to raise genuine safety concerns.
“Following hot on the heels of a similar episode at the Paddington depot where we are already balloting for local strike action it is clear that this has now become the company’s policy.
“Rail Gourmet would be better off spending their energy resolving the genuine Covid-19 health and safety concerns of staff rather than hounding RMT members for raising them.”
“I am writing to Rail Gourmet to inform them that unless the charges are dropped we will declare a company-wide dispute and ballot our members for industrial action across the entire operation.”