Unions protest over plans to export East Coast rail jobs

The unions RMT and TSSA will be holding a joint protest this Friday – 27th May – in Newcastle over plans to axe and export 180 customer call centre jobs by East Coast railways.

East Coast, in public hands following the ‘serial collapse of franchises run by GNER and National Express’, has given preferred-bidder status for customer-relations functions to Intelenet Global Services, which has operations in Plymouth and Mumbai, and to ATOS Origin, which operates in Wolverhampton.

RMT has called the decision a “bitter blow to the economy and communities of the northeast” which, if allowed by the government to stand, showed an “astonishing” lack of commitment to protecting jobs in the region. The unions will take that message onto the streets of Newcastle on Friday.

RMT has also been informed by Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah that she ‘has information from a reliable source that three companies – The Listening Company, Teleperformance and Journey Call – had bid for the work not only on the basis of keeping it in the UK but also keeping it on Tyneside. The rejection of those bids confirms RMT suspicions that the Government have been hell-bent on exporting the work regardless of the cost to the local economy.’

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:

“It is bad enough that the government wants to re-privatise the East Coast Mainline when it has already collapsed twice in private hands, but it defies belief that the government should even contemplate allowing these jobs to be exported.

“These are core functions that should be done in-house, and this is another classic example of the failure of privatisation and a market-mad contract-culture that sees only profit and loss and never the damage it does to services and the lives of real people.

“The Government should step in immediately to end this plan to compromise services through the exploitation of cheap foreign labour and we welcome the efforts of Gateshead MP Ian Mearns to drag this issue into the spotlight through Early Day Motion 1585.

“Our first duty is to the members affected, and we will continue to leave no stone unturned to try to get this decision reversed.”

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