WITH RMT members ‘rock solid’ in their latest day of strike action at Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper on Sunday, the railworkers union is demanding to know how much has been paid out to the rail privateers to fund their profits from Covid-19 Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs).
The rail union made the demand again on Monday after it was revealed that the Scottish Government has backtracked from its April 2021 commitment to publish this information.
Both Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper have been operating under EMAs since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020.
The terms of the initial EMA, which covered the period March – September 2020, permits the operators to receive management and performance fees worth up to 2% of the pre-pandemic franchise cost base.
In March 2021, in response to a parliamentary question, the Scottish Government stated that the fee payments for the initial EMA period had been ‘determined following a full financial reconciliation at the end of 2020’ and would be published online in April 2021.
However, the Scottish Government failed to meet this commitment.
A further parliamentary question tabled by Richard Leonard MSP and answered on the 16th June, makes clear that the Scottish Government is now trying to kick this issue into the long grass, and merely states that the fees will be published ‘in due course’.
RMT believes that this lack of transparency around the fees, which are funded from public money, suggests that the Scottish Government is attempting to avoid scrutiny over this issue at a time when frontline workers at both Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper are taking industrial action in fights over pay justice.
RMT believes it is even more astonishing that the Scottish Government is refusing to say how much Abellio and Serco have so far received in fees, when the Westminster Government published the fees paid to Train Operators in England under their EMAs many weeks ago.
RMT estimates that Dutch state owned Abellio could have made fees in excess of £8 million during the initial six-month EMA and Serco over £600,000 during the same period and believes this is more than enough to settle the disputes many times over.
RMT believes that it is high time the Scottish Government removed its veil of secrecy and came clean over how much these private operators have been handed.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘It is scandalous that the Scottish Government is still refusing to say how much the private rail operators in Scotland have received in fees for profits under their Emergency Measures Agreements, despite its commitment to publish these figures in April 2021.
‘What’s even more astonishing is this corporate cover up is even worse than that practiced by the Westminster Government who published the fees paid to Train Operators in England under their EMAs many weeks ago.
‘RMT members at ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper are taking industrial action in their ongoing fights for pay justice and it is clear that the Scottish Government is trying to kick into the long grass how much has been paid in fees to the private operators during the Covid-19 pandemic as we believe the profits being made are more than enough to settle these disputes many times over.
‘This complete failure of transparency makes clear it is one rule for these essential workers and one rule for the big business private operators.
‘It’s time to cut corporate profits to increase rail workers pay and RMT is demanding that the Scottish Government stops dragging its feet and comes clean about how much has been paid in fees for profits to Abellio ScotRail and Serco Caledonian Sleeper.’
On Sunday, RMT reported that strike action by Scotrail staff in fight for equality was solidly supported again, as Abellio was accused of setting their workforce up for violence and abuse.
The RMT said that strike action by Scotrail staff in a fight for equality and workplace justice over enhanced payments for rest day working is being solidly supported after a week in which Abellio sunk to a new low with vile tweets seeking to turn Scottish football fans against their rail workers.
RMT said that the incendiary tweets were designed to provoke a reaction and could easily lead to violence and abuse against Scotrail staff – a situation the union describes as ‘disgusting and despicable’.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘I want to pay tribute to our ScotRail members who are standing firm once again on the latest day of strike action in this dispute which is all about basic pay justice and equality with other grades.
‘It is frankly disgusting that these same staff, who have kept Scotland’s key workers moving during the pandemic, have been repaid with a kick in the teeth from this greedy and aggressive company.
‘Yet again Abellio have resorted to attacking their own workers this week rather than resolving this dispute. They have made no effort whatsoever to talk to us. This week’s tweets from Scotrail trying to turn football fans against their own staff are a new low.
‘Provoking potential violence and abuse against our members is disgusting and despicable and a measure of the values of this company.
‘The political leadership in Scotland can no longer sit on the fence and ignore these disputes in their back yard.
‘It’s time for serious talks, a serious approach to workplace fairness and justice and a serious solution to be reached. The politicians should be helping us to achieve just that.
‘Our campaign of action will continue and the union stands shoulder to shoulder with our conductor and ticket examiner members in this fight for pay equality with other grades.’
Meanwhile, the RMT last Friday welcomed cross-party support from Scottish MSPs for finding a fair resolution to the ScotRail disputes.
A motion tabled in the Scottish Parliament called for Pay Justice and Equality for ScotRail workers and for the Scottish Government to take action to resolve the longstanding dispute.
RMT ScotRail ticket examiner and conductor grades members are continuing with industrial action in two disputes in their fight for pay justice and equality with the latest phase of action going ahead with another rock solid strike on Sunday
The motion condemned ScotRail for falling to treat company grades equally and states that ‘Abellio ScotRail’s operations continue to be fully funded by the Scottish Government under its Emergency Measures Agreement and that, as the Scottish Government is managing the franchise, only it has the ability to resolve these disputes.’
With further industrial action scheduled, RMT is once again repeating its calls for the Scottish Government, which is managing the ScotRail franchise via its Emergency Measures Agreements, to commit to meaningful talks to bring about a fair resolution to these disputes.
General Secretary Lynch said: ‘RMT welcomes the cross-party support from Labour and Green MSPs for finding a fair resolution to Abellio ScotRail ticket examiner and conductor grades disputes over pay justice and equality.
MSPs have rightly recognised the essential role played by these workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and that all grades of ScotRail worker deserve pay fairness and equality.
‘The Scottish Government continues to manage the ScotRail franchise under its Emergency Measures Agreement and RMT believes that only it has the power to resolve the disputes.
Therefore, RMT is reiterating its calls for the Scottish Government to intervene as a matter of urgency and ensure that a fair and just resolution to these disputes can be reached.’