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To: The Secretary of State for Transport – Grant Shapps MP
Protect catering services and jobs on South Western Railway
The rail operator South Western Railway (SWR) has, with no prior notice, terminated its on-board catering contract with the provider Elior. This decision means more than 130 staff employed to provide on-board catering on SWR services have been told they will be made redundant on 17th January.
SWR says that it consulted the Department for Transport (DfT) over the decision. RMT is calling on the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP to intervene and reverse this decision, to protect all jobs and ensure the provision of catering on SWR services is maintained.
Why is this important?
SWR unexpectedly announced in December 2020 that it was terminating its on-board catering contract with Elior. This decision means that the 130-plus workers employed by Elior on the contract have now been given notice that they will be made redundant as of January 2021, some two months before the Government’s Job Retention Scheme is due to close.
RMT believes that SWR’s decision shows complete contempt for these workers and for passengers, and is concerned it is an attempt to remove the catering provision from SWR services by stealth. This would significantly worsen the passenger experience.
Since March 2020, South Western Railway’s operations have been fully funded by the Government with public money, under an Emergency Measures Agreement and now an Emergency Recovery Measures Agreement. The terms of the ERMA permit the paying of a ‘management fee’ which can be used to fund profits and make dividend payments.
SWR has confirmed that it consulted the DfT over its decision. RMT believes that the Government must intervene as a matter of urgency to reverse this reckless decision and protect all jobs and the catering service on the SWR network. If the contract cannot be renewed RMT is calling for these workers to be brought in-house.