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14.08.12

FirstGroup win could lead to RMT strikes

Unions are preparing to campaign against cuts to services as FirstGroup looks set to win the West Coast franchise. The Government is expected to announce the winner of the 14-year contract today. 

The RMT has stated it will consider balloting for industrial action if cuts to catering services are necessitated by the company’s large bid. FirstGroup is reported to have bid between £6.5-7bn, which could require payments to Government of around £500m each year. 

In a letter to transport secretary Justine Greening, founder of rival bidder Virgin Rail, Richard Branson warned that the higher premium could only be achieved by cutting services and significantly increasing fares from 2020 when capacity is expected to be reached. 

Other contenders Abellio and Keolis/SNCF are said to be out of the running. If Virgin loses the contract, they will be out of the UK rail network. 

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Whoever wins the West Coast route this week, and all the signs point to First Group, they should be left in no doubt that RMT will mount a massive industrial, political and public campaign to stop any attacks on our members jobs and the services that they provide to the travelling public. 

“We are already preparing a ballot for industrial action in light of the threatened job cuts.” 

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