RMT says its members are victims of penny pinching profiteers

Kettle boiling hot waterEight onboard hosts working on Scotrail trains are to be sacked in what the RMT union has called a “penny-pinching” row.

The news comes just days after rail fares rose by 2.5%, taking the total rise since 2010 to 27%.

The hosts, working for contractors Skytrac, have been told that they were being made redundant over what amounts to the simple issue of access to hot water and would have to find new jobs.


Their employer, Skytrac Rail Solutions, who have paid no rent to ScotRail for using their catering depot for the last seven years , have now been asked to leave the premises by the ScotRail operators.

Skytrac is the catering provider for First TransPennine Express, who run from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Manchester Airport. A Standard Class Anytime return on this route costs £131.80 – a First Class equivalent costs a whopping £253.60


Skytrac says that redundancies were unavoidable, as there’s nowhere for them to get hot water for the tea and coffee service – a point which the union fundamentally disputes and which could easily be sorted out between First and the company. RMT is of the opinion that the staff have lost their jobs because of what amounts to a penny-piching row between First and Skytrac.


However, Skytrac now plan to use Manchester-based staff who will stay in hotels in Edinburgh at a cost of between £50-£500 per night, which over the course of a year would work out at 3 members of staff wages for one person. These staff will need exactly the same facilities as they do now, making a mockery of the whole justification for the redundancies.


RMT has blamed the situation entirely on “TPE and their First group mates at Scotrail while rumours abound of dodgy dealing and eight staff are made redundant for the sake of a cup of tea.”


RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It defies belief that this hard-working group of staff were issued redundancy notices whilst they were working.  First Transpennine express have sat idly by and watched 8 hard working individuals be thrown onto the employment scrapheap without any intervention. These staff members have repeatedly gone way beyond our job description- from helping during break downs, to helping during medical emergencies. They have been caught in the middle of a turf war between First and their contractors and that is disgraceful.


“Catering services on Transpennine express will now be provided by Manchester based staff who will lodge in a hotel at a cost of £50-£500 per person per night for 363 days per year – one person lodging in Edinburgh would cost the equivalent of 3 Edinburgh based staff wages. That makes a nonsense of the justification for the redundancies.”


“This situation has clear parallels with the way that Skytrac sacked staff when they closed their Glasgow depot at the end of 2012.


“RMT is demanding urgent talks with Skytrac and will also be applying pressure on Network Rail, Scotrail and Abellio to resolve this scandalous situation. The union will also ensure that the matter is raised in both the Scottish and Westminster Parliaments.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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