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30/05/2014 - Rail Union slams SERCO

Caledonian Sleeper bar car 6706 at Euston Station

Rail Union, the RMT has slammed the awarding of the Scottish sleeper service £800m franchise to SERCO, warning the company will be met with fierce resistance if there is any threat to jobs.

Since the privatisation of British Rail the Caledonian Sleeper has been part of the ScotRail franchise. In 2012 the Scottish Government announced that as part of the reletting of this franchise from April 2015 it would be split, with the sleeper a separate franchise to run for 15 years.

In June 2013 Transport Scotland announced Arriva, FirstGroup and Serco had been shortlisted to bid for the new franchise. In May 2014 the franchise was awarded to Serco.

Acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is deeply concerned that this important and prestigious service has been awarded to SERCO, a company with a truly shocking track record in the delivery of public services. Quite frankly, with their appalling list of failures in the UK and globally they should never have even been considered as contenders for the Scottish sleeper service. The logical option of public ownership was not even looked at.

“SERCO is a company that has a reputation for promising the earth and delivering quite the opposite as they seek to maximise profits and sweat their assets for every single penny piece. This union is also seriously concerned at reports of financial problems at SERCO and the recent investigations into company practices. RMT will be meeting with the other rail unions but I can make it crystal clear that if there is any threat to the jobs and conditions of the staff transferring it will be met with fierce resistance including the use of industrial action if required.”

Pat Harrington commented: "Anyone who has used the Sleeper service knows that there is room for improvement! I don't believe that a private company is the best way to achieve this, however. It is disappointing that public ownership and management seems to never be considered as an option."

"The Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown (SNP) pointed out the 'absurd anomaly whereby state-owned companies from the rest of Europe can bid but you can’t have a public-sector bid from the UK,' yet he has not challenged it but rather meekly complied."