Tom Keighley

Unions launch legal action against East Coast privatisation plans

The three main rail unions have launched legal action in a bid to stop the Government’s proposed privatisation of East Coast trains.

RMT, Aslef and TSSA want to see a juidicial review of the Government’s decision to progress plans to make the company a franchise.

Virgin Rail, First Group, and a joint venture of SNCF subsidiaries Keolis and Eurostar, are all hoping to become the successful franchisee in 2015.

The unions have accused the Government of rushing through the proposals ahead of the next General Election, a move they say potentially jeopardises working conditions.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “It is imperative that we raise the genuine concerns of all stakeholders but, especially, the employees before this is rushed through. We cannot, in good conscience, allow the mistakes of the past to happen again.”

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash added: “After the scandal of this Government robbing the British taxpayer of a billion pounds in the scramble to privatise the Post Office it is shocking that they are engaging in the same tactics to try and hand the East Coast Mainline back to their friends in big business.

“The British public have a right to openness and transparency when it comes to the ideologically-driven attempt to sell off Britain’s most successful rail-route to the speculators and chancers after two previous private sector failures on the same line.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The Tory led coalition knows only too well that rail franchising is not fit for purpose. They continue to ignore the recommendations of the Brown review which they commissioned following the West Coast debacle.

“Rail workers are at a loss to understand why the government insists on going forward with a broken system which threatens the interests of passengers and taxpayers. We can only conclude that the ideology which saw Royal Mail flogged off on the cheap continues to thrive.”

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