19 January 2015
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT today set out a list of key points that it is seeking urgent assurances over from First Group on their Great Western services as the union’s hard-hitting campaign around the new fleet of Inter-City trains has forced the company onto the back foot.
The latest circular issued by the First Great Western Managing Director, in direct response to the RMT campaign in relation to the Inter-City Express Programme (IEP), makes the following claims in response to the union’s campaign:
“The new trains design does not prevent hot and cold food being served on board. Our current HST fleet has a mixture of kitchens and standalone buffets but every SET will have kitchen facilities on board. The new trains are not required to be Driver Only Operated SET doors can be operated from both within the train and from a central point in the drivers cab, like on some HSTs and Driver Only Operated turbos which SETs will replace.”
RMT is well aware that there will be implications for engineering workers at some depots. The contract for the new trains is between the Department for Transport and Hitachi and they will be maintained at three new purpose-built depots. The union is in discussions with those teams affected and will continue to support colleagues as more details emerge as to what this might mean for them.”
In light of the claims by the company RMT has now written again to First Group seeking direct answers to the following:
• Should First Group be successful in their bid for the Great Western Franchise commencing in March 2015, will First Group be providing a buffet/car-bar facility on SET rolling stock in line with the recent announcement from East Coast Trains?
• Should First Group be successful in their bid for the Great Western Franchise commencing in March 2015, will First Group maintain its existing catering provisions which includes buffet cars/express café/restaurant services on HST rolling stock services not scheduled to be replaced by SET services.
• Should First Group be successful in their bid for the Great Western Franchise commencing in March 2015, will First Group give a clear assurance that Driver Only Operation will be a safety competent Guard/Train Manager/Conductor on all SET services?
• Should First Group be successful in their bid for the Great Western Franchise commencing in March 2015, will First Group support the principle of the TUPE transfer of engineering staff transferring to Hitachi from First Great Western protecting the job security, pay and terms and conditions of this skilled workforce?
• Further, that First Group will seek to maintain its existing establishment figures of its engineering grades.
RMT has stepped up the campaign 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.”
RMT has been battling against 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.
“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. “
For the latest campain information click HERE