Solidarity has highlighted many times the ways in which privateer train companies are bad for both staff and customers. We've campaigned for years for re-nationalisation of our rail network because it will benefit staff, customers and tax-payers. The latest example of the terrible way the privateer train companies treat their staff and customers comes form Southern which operates services from London Bridge and Victoria to the south of England.
They waited three months before telling train trolley staff they would lose their jobs, operators revealed yesterday. Southern told contractor Rail Gourmet in April that it planned to discontinue its on-board catering.
From the start of the new Thameslink-Southern-Great Northern super-franchise on Monday, services over two hours in duration will be left with no way to buy food and drink onboard. It seems Southern don't know how to make a profit even with a monopoly! It also means customers are denied a service.
Staff at Rail Gourmet have been offered consultation on the dismissals two days after their sacking — and three months after the company was informed it would lose the contract!
The RMT Union is rightly furious. General secretary Mick Cash said it was “scandalous” that the company withheld the information from the staff and their union.
“This disgraceful move is an attack on both our low paid members and the services that they provide to the travelling public and has been handled in the most shocking fashion,” he said.
“The fact that it is all bound up in the franchising process speaks volumes about how rail privatisation impacts on staff and passengers alike in the drive for profits.”
Mr Cash said both Rail Gourmet and the train operator had a duty to urgently find jobs for the dismissed workers.
A spokesman for Southern confirmed it had been in discussions with Rail Gourmet “for some time” over the withdrawal of on-board catering.
He said the company was “working with Rail Gourmet to help their staff find employment with us and we are prioritising their displaced staff in our application process.”
They are not offering jobs in catering.
“This would be for general vacancies as and when they come up: anything from train crew to station staff,” the spokesman added.
Rail Gourmet claimed there had been “absolutely no” agreement that the contract would be terminated prior to July 20 and that it therefore had not notified staff of the risk to their jobs.