Virgin Trains West Coast catering staff to vote on industrial action

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gavin

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Virgin Trains West Coast catering staff on to vote on industrial action in a row over pay

Catering workers on Virgin Rail's West Coast route are to be balloted for industrial action in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, employed by the DHL Group, will vote in the coming weeks on whether to launch a campaign of action.

The union said the workers, who staff catering services on trains from London to Glasgow, have been offered a pay rise of 1.75%, but only for those who did not receive any increase when the national living wage came into effect earlier this year.

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's offer does nothing to assist the overwhelming majority of their staff, who are based at Euston, to secure the London Living Wage.

"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."

http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/vir...n-industrial-action-in-pay-row-11364101421223
 
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Terrier

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Totally wrong article. DHL supply and deliver the food to trains and are based at stations such as Euston,Manchester and Glasgow. They do NOT work On Board. All On Board staff are employed by Virgin
 

Clip

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Quite as the RMT article itself states

MT to ballot for action over poverty pay threat on Virgin West Coast Catering.
Rail union RMT confirmed today that it has declared a dispute and will begin balloting shortly in a pay dispute on Virgin West Coast’s catering service which it says could undermine 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 on Virgin West Coast is held by the giant DHL group after it was outsourced by Virgin in 2014. The contract covers supplies for catering services right the way through from London to Glasgow.

DHL have offered an increase of 1.75% effective from 1st July 2016. 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 poverty threshold.

The offer has been considered by RMT’s National Executive Committee and it has come to the conclusion that it does nothing to meet our aspirations of a decent pay offer and is nothing like that which has been offered to directly employed Virgin West Coast staff. Therefore the National Executive Committee has instructed a ballot of all staff affected for industrial 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.”
 

Carlisle

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Totally wrong article. DHL supply and deliver the food to trains and are based at stations such as Euston,Manchester and Glasgow. They do NOT work On Board. All On Board staff are employed by Virgin

Yes they took over the contract from Rail Gourmet a few years back
 

Kite159

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So these are the staff which load the trains at Euston/Glasgow/Preston (etc) with food/drink items to be sold in the shop and to be consumed as part of the 1st class offering?

My guess is that DHL bid for the outsourcing contract on a low price offer, which didn't take into account the Living Wage introduced back in April.
 

Carlisle

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I see that once again the RMT press releases carry such a phrase as....."A grinding down of pay rates to poverty thresholds"...<(
Ah but both RMT & Virgin are slightly complicit in the problem here, as over time RMT have fought for and Virgin have been willing to pay pretty generous wages to their own staff pushing up costs, resulting in TOCs trying ever harder to squeeze maximum savings/ efficiencies out of contracts like these
 
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craigybagel

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I see that once again the RMT press releases carry such a phrase as....."A grinding down of pay rates to poverty thresholds"...<(

I'd like to see you try and live in London on £7.20 p/h. I think you'd find it not far away from poverty. But I suppose that doesn't matter, everythings alright in your leafy Cheshire suburb, so why should union's fight for other people's best interests?
 

HH

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I don't think you would call Virgin Catering Staff's pay "generous" unless your name was Scrooge.

Other staff are very well remunerated and possibly VTWC's catering staff are a bit better off than some other TOCs, but still, it's not what I would call a living wage, whatever politicians decide can bear that name.

As for the poor blighters that have to provide the food, I have visited where they have to work, under the platforms, and they certainly deserve any pay rise they can get.

If DHL are caught by pricing on even lower wages than they actually now have to pay, then I cannot feel sorry for them, but I would also point out that it's within Virgin Train's remit to offer DHL an increased price - and indeed to have specified that all bidders for the contract paid a living wage in the first place.
 

CHESHIRECAT

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Is £26k for Customer Service Assistant on board not a living wage then ?! For the work performed and perks I would say so !
 

AlterEgo

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Is £26k for Customer Service Assistant on board not a living wage then ?! For the work performed and perks I would say so !

Are we sure this is the grade affected? I thought VTWC directly employed these staff.

It seems like the dispute is with contractors who prepare and load the trains, is that right?
 

Carlisle

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Is £26k for Customer Service Assistant on board not a living wage then ?! For the work performed and perks I would say so !

Exactly, that was the point I was trying to make in my previous post
 
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Blindtraveler

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How long does the VT catering supply contract have to go?

Whilst Virgin are at fault here assuming they went for the lowest bidder, I do think DHL have missed a trick here as presumably they want to win more contracts like this and so a high profile strike or issue woant help them?
 

Chrism20

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How long does the VT catering supply contract have to go?

Whilst Virgin are at fault here assuming they went for the lowest bidder, I do think DHL have missed a trick here as presumably they want to win more contracts like this and so a high profile strike or issue woant help them?

Three years by the look of it, the news release was February 2014 so I assume it will be up for retender very soon.

Pay rises will have been factored into the cost of the contract, or it should have been, however if you had said to me in 2014 that any government, nevermind a Conservative government would increase the minimum wage by that amount in one go I'd have almost died laughing.
 

Carlisle

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if you had said to me in 2014 that any government, nevermind a Conservative government would increase the minimum wage by that amount in one go I'd have almost died laughing.
Yes a valid argument if it concerns a small, new, developing or rapidly declining business but this is about supplying food/ catering services to arguably the UKs premier main train operator whose benefited from considerable growth in recent years
 
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Blindtraveler

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Be that as it may I think businesses large and small were caught on the hop here and never expected it to go through so some, even large ones could well have not planned ahead for it.

I dare say some orgonisations may just decide to function on less staff and not fill vacancies but I dont know enough about how the catering supplies sector works to judge how possible if indeed possible it is in this situation.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The contract length will be linked to the VT franchise.
Since it was awarded, VT had an extension of a year to 2018, so no doubt the DHL side will do the same.
DHL is of course a very big company and is owned by Deutsche Post.
 

Chrism20

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Yes a valid argument if it concerns a small, new, developing or rapidly declining business but this is about supplying food/ catering services to arguably the UKs premier main train operator whose benefited from considerable growth in recent years

Be that as it may I think businesses large and small were caught on the hop here and never expected it to go through so some, even large ones could well have not planned ahead for it.

I dare say some orgonisations may just decide to function on less staff and not fill vacancies but I dont know enough about how the catering supplies sector works to judge how possible if indeed possible it is in this situation.

The wages line is one of the biggest on the trading account and the minimum wage went up something like 7% which was unprecedented. That's a hike for any company paying low wages regardless of the size of the company. It's even more difficult for a company that operates with contracts as these are obviously forecasted way in advance as they have less scope to renegotiate etc.

All that being said it's poor that they are on or very close to the minimum wage and I expected a bit better from Virgin tbh. I hope when it goes to retender that it's a requirement for the supplier to pay the living wage.
 
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SS4

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The link in the OP has no issue with letting its readers believe that it is the on-board staff who are striking though and, as always, union intransigence is to blame.

Also that page sucks, I thought autoplaying video died out years ago :(
 
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