Anger as loss-mak­ing ScotRail asks staff to quit in at­tempt to cut costs

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

MARTIN WIL­LIAMS

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.

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