Legal battle to nationalise West Coast

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union
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A trade union is taking its fight to halt Virgin carry on running the West Coast Main Line through Lancashire to Europe.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers has confirmed it is petitioning the European Commission over legal breaches as part of the extension of the West Coast Main Line contract with Virgin.

Its solicitors is lodging a petition as talks over the new contract, which would see Virgin continue running the service on December 9 when its latest contract expires, continue with the Government and the operator.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said he wanted to see the route nationalised following the botched handling of the award of the franchise to run the route.

He said: “More than 3,000 jobs and many more with supporting contractors are hanging in balance only weeks away from the contracts end because of the ideological objection to going the safe and simple route of renationalisation

“The notion pedaled by Virgin that giving them an extension for a few months, before retendering another short term deal and then going for a longer franchise after a couple of years, gives the staff any security is a sick joke.

“The current West Coast staff could have three bosses in three years with all of the uncertainty and potential for cuts to jobs, working conditions and pensions that are thrown in the mix at every twist and turn.

“That’s not job security, that’s gambling with people’s working lives in the name of private profit.

“If RMT, or any other union, sought to flout laws and regulations in the way that the Government are proposing over the West Coast lash up we would be dragged into court like a shot. RMT will not sit back while our members are hung out to dry by this franchise fiasco.”

The service had been expected to be handed to rival operator, First, next month before “flaws” were identified in the process.