Published: 17/11/2017 16:02 - Updated: 17/11/2017 16:04

Finnie calls for ScotRail to put service before profit

Written byEmma Crichton

 

Green MSP John Finnie
Green MSP John Finnie
 

 

The Scottish Government has promised to closely watch changes to train services to prevent job losses.

Scotrail staff have been asked to consider voluntary redundancy for the third time since the company was taken over by Abellio in 2015.

Under their contract with the government, the company is committed to no compulsory redundancies but it has now been revealed that there are 256 vacancies, worth £3 million per year.

During First Minister’s Questions yesterday (Thursday) Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie called for Scotrail to fill the posts and put service over profit.

He said: "I’m advised that this is the third time since 2015 that they have sought people to leave and this is from an organisation which relies heavily on agency staff.

"I’m also told there are 256 vacancies and the cumulative worth of their salaries is £6 million per annum.

"Will you get the Scottish Government to intervene to ensure that these posts are filled and ensure that it is public service rather than profit that drives Scotland’s railways?"

Deputy First Minister John Swinney was standing in for Nicola Sturgeon but made an assurance that the government will ensure all contracted services are carried out.

"What is important is that the monitoring and pressure is sustained by the transport minister and I give Mr Finnie the assurance that will be the case," he said.

"Within the contract there is a commitment that there should be no compulsory redundancies.

"Clearly Scotrail will make judgements about the recruitment and deployment of their staff but that must be done within the context of fulfilling their contractual obligations and the government will make sure that is the case in all circumstances."

Speaking later, Mr Finnie said he is "very concerned".

"The RMT [National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport] has advised me that this "voluntary leavers’ scheme", unveiled on Tuesday, was for the third time in two years that Scotrail has encouraged its staff to leave.

"It’s disappointing that Scotrail continues to rely on agency staff when I am advised there are currently 256 vacancies and that the salaries of those posts equates to over £6 million per annum.

"I’m very concerned about what this will do for staff morale and I’d urge ministers to liaise with transport unions and ScotRail to have those vacancies filled, a resolution which means public service rather than profit drives Scotland’s railways."

A Scotrail spokesman confirmed that staff have been asked to consider voluntary redundancy.

"Our policy of no compulsory redundancies remains firmly in place – anybody who currently has a job in the business will continue to do so if they want one," he added.

"But with new trains and services coming soon, the way we operate has to change so that we can build the best railway Scotland’s ever had."

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