‘EVERY member of the RMT welcomes the Scottish government’s announcement that the publicly-owned Operator of Last Resort will run the ScotRail franchise from March 2022,’ said RMT rail union General Secretary Mick Cash on Thursday.
He stressed: ‘RMT welcomes today’s announcement from the Scottish Government that ScotRail services will be run in the public sector, via the Operator of Last Resort, from March 2022 when the current Abellio franchise expires.’
‘We have long campaigned for the Scottish Government to utilise its existing powers and take Scotland’s rail passenger services into public ownership – and today’s announcement represents a clear victory for this campaign.
‘The Scottish government has also confirmed today that it is looking to extend the Abellio ScotRail Emergency Measures Agreement until September 2021. Rather than propping up Abellio for any longer, RMT is calling on the Scottish government to have the Operator of Last Resort in place from September this year.
‘Public ownership of ScotRail will deliver significant benefits for Scotland’s rail workers, passengers and taxpayers and help enable the creation of an affordable, accessible and sustainable rail network that contributes to Scotland’s decarbonisation targets.
‘In light of today’s announcement, RMT will be seeking urgent discussions with the Scottish Government to ensure that all ScotRail workers’ jobs, pay and conditions are protected throughout this process and once they transfer to the new operator.’
Meanwhile, the TSSA rail workers’ union has also welcomed the news.
Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson has already told MSPs that from next March no new franchise would be awarded for ScotRail services. And TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: ‘This announcement is long overdue – much like many ScotRail trains were whilst Abellio was in charge.
‘I’m delighted to see the SNP have finally listened to representations from our union, Scottish Labour, passengers and staff alike and announced the return of ScotRail to the public sector.
‘The Covid-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear that our railways are a public service, not a piggy bank for fat cat shareholders. And the Labour government in Wales showed the way when they nationalised the railways earlier this year.
‘The rest of the country must now follow Welsh Labour’s lead and end the Tories’ Frankenstein privatisation failure.’
And train drivers’ union ASLEF – alongside every UK rail union – also welcomed the development: and on the same day Scotland’s government also announced it will bring its railways back into the public sector.
The announcement was made in the Scottish Parliament, and ASLEF leaders stressed that when the Abellio ScotRail franchise ends on 31 March 2022, the running of ScotRail will be taken over by the Operator of Last Resort – i.e., a public body accountable to the government.
‘ASLEF has long been campaigning for Scotland’s railway to be owned and operated in the public sector,’ the union said, ‘keeping funding and investment in the hands of the people of Scotland, and we welcome this news.’
Plus ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, Kevin Lindsay, commented: ‘We welcome the beginning of the end of the failed franchise system here in Scotland. However, never again should the people’s railway ever be in the hands of the privateers.
‘This move starts the end of franchising, and the end of a failed Tory experiment. It’s now for all us in the railway to build a railway that’s accessible, affordable, and safe for the people of Scotland.’
- The general secretary of the TSSA white collar union, Manuel Cortes, hailed ‘the employment tribunal judgment which has found against Thomas Cook over the travel firm’s failure to consult before making redundancies, meaning up to 1,500 former employees could claim as much as £4,200 from the Insolvency Service in what has been described as “the best possible outcome”.’
He explained: ‘Thomas Cook went into liquidation on 23 September 2019 with around 1,500 London, Manchester and Peterborough Head Office employees made redundant without any prior warning or consultation.
‘Legally, Thomas Cook should have started a consultation process with TSSA at least 45 days before making anyone redundant. The company completely failed to do so, instead making staff redundant with immediate effect.
‘The union, with the help of specialist law firm Morrish Solicitors, secured the judgment against Thomas Cook for a protective award. The tribunal awarded the maximum of 90 days’ pay for each of the affected employees, a move which means up to 1,500 other Head Office employees who worked in role levels 1-5 within UK retail central operations and retail support, contact centre, and corporate and group functions, may also be entitled to claim compensation.
‘Those covered by the judgment can seek up to eight weeks’ pay from the government’s Insolvency Service, which guarantees some of the protective award compensation from the national insurance fund.
‘The Insolvency Service caps awards at £525 a week (the 2019 rate) meaning a former Thomas Cook employee could claim as much as £4,200 with payment expected within the coming weeks.’
Describing the outcome of the tribunal, Cortes added: ‘This is very good news indeed. I’m delighted for our members and all those who were failed by both Thomas Cook and the government. Our union has fought for our members at Thomas Cook all the way – and this judgment shows we have been justified.’