Rail catering staff to strike over allegations of bullying

Rail Gourmet staff will strike for four days to protest against allegations of bulling and harassment at Edinburgh Waverley.

Rail catering staff to strike over allegations of bullying iStock

Rail catering staff will go on strike for three days this week to protest against allegations of bulling and harassment at Edinburgh Waverley.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) declared a dispute with company Rail Gourmet, which currently supplies Scotland to London operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER) from Edinburgh.

It follows a recent 100% vote by members in support of strike action.

Rail Gourmet staff, which provide catering trolleys on trains, have backed four days of strike action, starting from Wednesday and continuing on July 17 and 18 and July 31.

RMT regional organiser Mick Hogg said the dispute dated back to a row earlier this year when the union accused the company of “silencing and disciplining hardworking staff who dare to raise genuine safety concerns”.

It is claimed that after a Covid outbreak at the firm’s Edinburgh premises, a manager had emailed staff telling them when they booked a test to claim they had at least one symptom.

It is claimed this was to ensure they got a test at a time when only close contacts of those who contracted Covid were offered tests as a matter of course.

Rail Gourmet admitted the instruction should not have been issued.

Mr Hogg claimed the local manager was “out of control” and claimed the “culture of bullying and harassment” had included elected union representatives being told not to talk about any union business within the workplace and “trying to force people out of the business through their bad health”.

Rail Gourmet members at Edinburgh Waverley are now instructed not to book on for any shifts that commence between 6am on Wednesday and 5.59am on Thursday.

A picket line will assemble at the top of Edinburgh’s Market Street at 8am.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch, said: “Tomorrow’s strike is all about respect and justice in the workplace and the company’s continued refusal, even in the face of a massive 100% vote for strike action, to do anything about it.

“A culture of bullying and harassment has been allowed to develop at Edinburgh Waverley which has led to a wholesale breakdown in industrial relations and our members have had enough.

“It’s now down to Rail Gourmet to listen to the strength of feeling of its workers and address these long running and deep-seated issues.

“RMT will be backing our members with all means at our disposal to ensure they are no longer confronted with this toxic working environment.

“The union remains available for talks.”

The dispute involves about 20 staff working on the LNER contract, which Mr Hogg said Rail Gourmet had been told they were losing.

Rail Gourmet has been approached for comment on the strike.

A Rail Gourmet spokesman previously said: “The wellbeing of our colleagues is paramount to us, and any form of bullying and/or harassment is completely unacceptable.

“Allegations made to this effect are taken extremely seriously and fully investigated by the business.

“Whilst we can confirm an investigation into a member of our team is currently underway, we cannot comment on the matter until this has been concluded.

“We have been in regular dialogue with the RMT regarding the matter, and will continue to keep them informed.”

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