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RAIL staff could be forced to take industrial action across Britain if pensions are threatened because of wrangles over franchise bids, RMT leader Mick Cash warned at the Scottish TUC Congress today.
Last week the Department for Transport at Westminster banned Stagecoach from bidding for train franchises after the company, which also holds a 49 per cent shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, refused to take on the full historic pension liabilities of railway workers.
Mr Cash said: “The fiasco over Stagecoach and Virgin being banned from the franchise lottery because they refuse to underpin their pension obligations has laid bare the chaos of privatisation and has left RMT members, including many in Scotland, facing a period of deep uncertainty.
“RMT has made it clear that any threat to our members’ pensions, jobs or working conditions as a result of a politically driven privatisation crisis they are not responsible for will be met with co-ordinated and robust action.”
The RMT general secretary also reiterated his union’s calls for the renationalisation of ScotRail, which is currently run by Abellio, owned by the Dutch national rail operator. “In Scotland, there is no excuse for allowing the privatisation racket to continue any longer,” he said.
“ScotRail should be taken into public ownership and run as a public service in the interests of safe, secure and reliable services for all.”
Scottish Labour and the Scottish Greens pushed for an early end to the ScotRail franchise in the Scottish Parliament last autumn but were outvoted by Tories and the SNP.
Green MSP John Finnie said today: “The Scottish government should stop prevaricating and take steps to strip the abysmal Abellio of the ScotRail franchise, putting in place a public-sector operator as soon as possible.”
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