By New Worker correspondent
London was almost entirely cut off from Aberdeen at the beginning of the week because of transport union RMT taking another round of strike action on the Caledonian Sleeper service.
At the start of a two-day strike that closed the service, General Secretary Mick Cash said “RMT members are standing united and determined from Inverness to London today in a fight for basic workplace justice on the Caledonian Sleeper service while the company, SERCO, ignore their duty of care to their staff, wreck the talks process and focus solely on profiteering at our members’ expense. The shutdown of services today and tomorrow is entirely due to SERCO and their cavalier approach to their staff. Their attitude is an absolute disgrace.
“The union is angry and frustrated that promises made to us to deal with the serious concerns of the Caledonian Sleeper staff have not been honoured and the failure of SERCO to come up with any serious progress in key talks yet again this week left us with no choice but to go ahead with our industrial action from today exactly as planned. It is now down to SERCO to get serious, get out their bunker and get back round the table.”
Ironically the dispute was sparked by the introduction of much delayed new trains. RMT has also demanded that the Scottish Government get off the fence and take the responsibility of applying political pressure on the company to reach a fair settlement with the union.
On the second day Mick Cash weighed in: “If SERCO thought they could continue to ignore their duty of care to the Caledonian Sleeper staff they should look at the total shutdown of their services as we enter the second day of this strike action and they should think again.
“It is frankly disgraceful that the Scottish Government have chosen to sit on the fence while staff on this important and prestigious rail link have been kicked from pillar to post. They should get off their backsides and start taking some responsibility.”
On Wednesday morning RMT protested outside the Scottish Parliament and called for immediate termination of Abellio’s ScotRail contract, demanding that the contract for running the nation’s railways immediately and permanently be taken back into public ownership.
Abellio has been failing so badly that even the SNP Government already has a plan in place for an operator of last resort to take over the running of the service.
The demonstration took place as the Scottish parliament debated a motion calling for nationalisation. Last time this was debated the Scottish Government did not support the motion. This year, however, the service has severely deteriorated and should prove beyond any doubt that Dutch state railway Abellio ScotRail is a failure.