Anger as loss-making ScotRail asks staff to quit in attempt to cut costs
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the transport staff union TSSA, said it was time for Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to “stop Abellio in its tracks and take back the keys to ScotRail”.
“Since the day Abellio took over the running of ScotRail the service has swung from crisis to crisis,” he said. “Delays have become systemic. It’s turned from profit-making to a loss-making business despite passenger revenues – because of rip-off ticket prices – running at an all time high.
“But news that they now want our members to volunteer to sacrifice their jobs to bail the company out of its financial crisis is a new low, even for Abellio.”
He said Abellio was already slow to fill job vacancies as staff leave, meaning ScotRail was running on overstretched rosters. He accused the company of “sneaking round asking for volunteers to sell their jobs in return for a pay-off”.
He said: “This is not just a bribe, by announcing they want scalps Abellio are creating further uncertainty and are effectively bullying our members into jumping over the job cliff.
“It’s also no way to run Scotland’s railways. Volunteers leaving under voluntary severance won’t be replaced, meaning the customer will get a poorer service.”
He believes the move supports his belief that Scotland’s railways should be put under full public ownership.
He said: “Privatisation isn’t working. It’s time for Scotland to run our railways ourselves.”
Mr Yousaf was forced to apologise to passengers following widespread disruption on ScotRail services last winter.
Tough trading conditions and a partial closure of Glasgow Queen Street station were blamed for the financial loss in 2016.
The company highlighted investment of £475m, the introduction of a new fleet of Hitachi-built electric class 385 trains and the “extensive” refurbishment of high-speed trains to serve Scotland’s cities from 2018.
In his call for voluntary redundancies, Mr Gillies said: “We are on the cusp of a big transformation for our business.”
He added: “This means that we must now look at how we are structured across the business and, where necessary, make changes to enable and sustain excellent customer service into the future.”
An Abellio ScotRail spokesman said: “Our policy of no compulsory redundancies remains firmly in place – anybody who currently has a job in the business will continue to do so if they want one. But with new trains and services coming soon, the way we operate has to change so that we can build the best railway Scotland’s ever had.” A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to working in partnership with Abellio ScotRail and its alliance partner Network Rail to ensure the success of the ScotRail franchise in reliably connecting our communities, enabling opportunities and spreading sustainable economic prosperity.”
Derek Penman is to step down on March 31.