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RMT calls on Scottish government to lift its ‘veil of secrecy’ over fees paid to private rail operators

RMT has called for the Scottish government to come clean over how much has been paid to fund profits for private rail operators north of the border during the pandemic.

The rail union has condemned the Scottish government’s “veil of secrecy” over fees for profits paid to operators Serco and Abellio, as industrial action continues on both the Caledonian Sleeper and ScotRail services.

The Scottish government had previously committed to publishing by April this year how much the ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper franchises have been paid under their Covid-19 emergency measures agreements (EMAs). 

The terms of the initial EMA permit the operators to receive management and performance fees worth up to 2 per cent of the pre-pandemic franchise cost base.

RMT estimates that 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.

This would be more than enough to settle the ongoing disputes over pay justice many times over. 

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that the decision not to publish was scandalous, saying: “This complete failure of transparency makes clear it is one rule for these essential workers and one rule for the big business private operators.”

Transport Scotland has reiterated that the claims by the RMT are incorrect, saying that the details of fees paid would be published within 12 weeks of May. 

The government department also said Transport Minister Graeme Dey has offered to meet both unions and franchise bosses later this week. 

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said that they fully appreciate the efforts of rail workers and called for all parties to make serious efforts to resolve the dispute for the benefit of passengers.

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