RAILWAYS: serco accused of bullying and harassment

 

By Bill Heaney

The SNP government remains committed  to growing the rail market, according to Minister for Transport, Graeme Dey.

He told parliament: “Our national transport strategy is clear about the investment priority that we attach to public transport and modal shift.

“The substantial financial support that we have provided throughout the pandemic has ensured the availability of rail, along with bus, as a mode of choice.

“ScotRail Trains Ltd will be charged with producing a market growth strategy from April 2022 that develops and implements appropriate products and services to address post-Covid markets, in order to deliver increased revenue and passenger growth against a backdrop of net zero carbon and modal shift.”

But former Labour leader Richard Leonard was sceptical.  He told MSPs: “As a low-carbon transport link between Scotland’s two largest cities and London, the Caledonian sleeper route has a central role to play in getting people on to public transport, yet Serco, which is responsible for running the franchise, has managed to cause not one but two disputes with its workers and their union—the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers—over both pay and, now, clear evidence of bullying and harassment. That is a shocking way to treat key workers.

“As the Scottish Government fully funds the franchise, I say to it today, ‘Bring it back—bring it back into public ownership.’  Will the minister commit now to doing that when the emergency measures agreement expires in March 2022?”

Mr Dey, pictured left, replied: “We have encouraged both sides to resolve the initial dispute between the Caledonian sleeper operators and the RMT.

“As I understand it, the trade union concerned approached the operators with a proposal to resolve the dispute.

“The operators came back matching that proposal, the trade union did not recommend it to its members and it was rejected. I think that that is matter of deep regret.

“Bullying and harassment—alleged or otherwise—is a serious matter. I would encourage Serco to look into that dispute in great detail.”

Tory MSP Graham Simpson (Central Scotland)  interjected: “We do not get people back on to trains by cutting services. The consultation on the controversial proposed new timetable closed on 2 October. When will we be told the results?”

Graeme Dey: told him: “That is going through a process of review and the results will be conveyed to the public in due course.”

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