9 December 2016
RMT announce strike dates over poverty pay threat on Virgin West Coast Catering
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed today strike dates in a pay dispute on Virgin West Coast’s catering supplies service which it says could reduce pay of members to poverty levels at a time when the political debate is focussed on lifting wages to a genuine, living level.
The £30 million catering supply contract to Virgin West Coast Train services is held by the giant German owned DHL Global group after it was outsourced by Virgin in 2014. The contract covers supplies of pre-prepared food, sandwiches, drinks, confectionary, crockery and cutlery for the delivery of on board catering services right the way through from London to Glasgow.
DHL have offered an increase of 2.2% effective from 1st July 2016 instead of the original anniversary date of 1st April. However, this will only be applied to members who did not receive any increase in line with the National Minimum Wage (£7.20) made effective in April 2016 – effectively trying to drag back the wages of the low paid to the absolute lowest of poverty thresholds.
DHL’s proposal does nothing to meet our aspirations of a decent pay offer and does not match that which has already been accepted by directly employed Virgin West Coast staff.
As a result of this drive to expect our members to work for poverty pay RMT has had no alternative but to declare the following action:
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“This union will not tolerate a grinding down of pay rates to poverty thresholds on Britain’s railways at a time when the political focus is all on lifting wages to decent, living levels. DHL are flying in the face of that and are cynically trying to abuse staff by paying the National Minimum Wage as a drag weight on wages for the low paid workforce. Furthermore, DHL’s offer does nothing to assist the overwhelming majority of their staff, who are based at Euston, to secure the London Living Wage.
“DHL and Virgin are big, household names and RMT will not let them get away with this sharp practice on wages within front line and service support roles.
“These catering staff are part of the team on the inter-city West Coast routes who slog their guts out supplying passengers, often in difficult conditions with our rammed-out and delayed trains. The very least that they deserve is pay justice.”