Business secretary Vince Cable has been told that he can’t ‘wash his hands’ of Railcare, as 152 redundancies were confirmed today (Friday 2 August).
Unite, the country’s largest union, and the RMT union said that Railcare had a full order book from October and that Vince Cable should intervene immediately to encourage the banks and rolling stock companies to provide short-term loan facilities to keep the highly-skilled workforce intact.
The unions also hit out at the administration process in the UK which did not allow breathing space for a rescue package to be put together.
A total of 119 jobs are to go at Wolverton (Milton Keynes) and 33 at Springburn (Glasgow). This leaves a much reduced workforce still facing uncertainty.
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said, “Vince Cable should not be allowed to wash his hands of Railcare. This is a shameful attitude as the company has a full order book from October – what it needs are loan facilities to tide them over.
“This is a terrible blow to the Springburn workers made redundant, their families and the local communities – Unite will do all we can to support our members and campaign for their future livelihoods.
“The administration process in the UK is not fit for purpose as it does not allow enough breathing space for a rescue package to be put together. We should follow the Chapter 11 approach that is used in the USA which allows more time in these situations.
“The unions are scheduled to have a meeting next week at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) – and we hope very much that this will still take place – but BIS must display more energy and initiative to save these highly skilled jobs that our industrial base relies on.
“Additionally, I have also written to the Finance Secretary John Swinney seeking any possible assistance and support from the Scottish Government to offset these totally unnecessary cuts.”
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said, “This is appalling news and RMT is demanding to know just what Vince Cable and his department have been up to following their pledges to support the workforce at Railcare in getting through this short term cash flow crisis.
“Yesterday we were told that BIS had intervened to stop the redundancy process and yet today nearly 150 skilled and loyal workers have been told personally that they are finished despite the fact that Railcare has a full order book from the end of the summer. The names of those on the redundancy list were read out in mass meetings in the most brutal and despicable fashion.
“This scandal makes a mockery of the governments paper pledges to support British engineering jobs. RMT had sought assurances that we would get a meeting with Vince Cable to examine option for rescuing Railcare before any major changes, like redundancies, were made. We are now told that the earliest we can get a meeting with Dr Cable's officials is Monday despite the fact that this crisis has been running all week.
“RMT will continue to work with our sister unions and politicians and communities to stop the senseless destruction of Springburn and Wolverton and we will use every weapon available to us, including direct action, to stop this wanton industrial vandalism at two major rail engineering plants. We are also continuing to demand urgent face to face talks with Vince Cable himself. He cannot hide behind faceless announcements from the administrators.”
Railcare takeover talks broke down last week which led to the administrator stepping in.
Yesterday (Thursday 1st August) Unite national officer for the rail industry Julia Long and RMT general secretary Bob Crow wrote to Vince Cable, saying “However, some hope persists of a takeover which would save employment, pay and the order book. Therefore, we are seeking support and assistance from the government in securing a short-term bridging loan or other form of financial support to the company to help meet the £600,000 monthly wage bill.”
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 69394