RMT steps up campaign to end poverty pay on Northern

RMT steps up campaign to end poverty pay on Northern

9 October 2019

RMT Press Office:

RAIL UNION RMT said today that it is stepping up the fight for the Living Wage for staff working on revenue and gateline across Northern Rail on a contract let to outsourcing company Carlisle Support Services. The union is also calling for the public to show their support for this key group of Northern Rail staff by signing the petition set up through 38 Degrees.


The real Living Wage, which has cross party support, is an hourly rate which is set independently and updated every year. It is calculated according to the real costs of living in the UK and employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis. There are currently over 5,000 accredited employers.


RMT has been running a campaign for the Living Wage Foundation (LWF) rate to be paid to the revenue and gateline staff working on the Northern Rail contract for Carslisle Support Services for some time but the perfectly reasonable call has been snubbed. Northern are an LWF accredited employer, but are still allowing Carlisle to pay the staff the lower statutory minimum wage not the real living wage which is the benchmark for eliminating poverty pay. RMT has been denied recognition on the contract as the company have sought sweetheart deals with other outfits not inclined to rock the boat. However, RMT continues to recruit, campaign and organise and will not allow the Carslisle staff to be denied a living wage.

As well as setting up an on-line petition on 38 degrees regional organiser John Tilley is seeking a meeting with Northern Managing Director David Brown to press home the claim for the Living Wage to be paid and for it to be backdated to 2017 when Northern signed up to the Living Wage Foundation. It would be rank hypocrisy for the company to fail to address the situation.

RMT also says that the Living Wage Foundation itself has serious questions to answer. The LWF held their annual awards on 5th June this year hosted by TV money expert Martin Lewis where the award of “LWF Industry Champion” went to Carlisle Support Services in a bizarre move that completely ignores the companies track record on Northern. RMT is calling for the award to be withdrawn by the LWF until Carlisle get their house in order.

Two issues underscore the hypocrisy of the Living Wage Foundation award:

· Carlisle are to pay their head office staff the LWF rate while ignoring the workers standing for hours on the freezing cold station barriers collecting the money in for Northern, while racking up the company profits.

· Carlisle will actively promote the LWF to their clients by submitting duel bids, one based on LWF rate, and one on minimum wage making a mockery of the whole idea of the Living Wage.

This all makes the situation on the Northern contract completely untenable, given that both the client company and now the employer are supporting LWF, while the staff are still struggling to make ends meet on the lower, statutory minimum.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“It is a disgrace that both Northern and their contractors, Carlisle, are tolerating the scandal of poverty pay while claiming to support the Living Wage. We are calling out that rank hypocrisy and demanding that both outfits get their house in order.

“It is also unbelievable that the Living Wage Foundation gave Carlisle a gong while this scandal rumbles on across the Northern franchise.

“RMT will be jacking up the public campaign and we won’t stop fighting until the Carlisle Support Service staff secure pay justice.”


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Tagged with: northern rail, Carlisle support services, real living wage, cleaners