Not all in it together: SSP lays off workers

Posted in Off The Rails's blog on Mon, 30/03/2020 - 16:51,

In another episode that proves we're not "all in it together" during the pandemic, and that bosses are definitely not suspending class struggle from their side, Select Service Partners (the agency that provides workers for fast food and coffee concessions, and some other shops, at train stations) has laid off its workers, and says it wont pay them until the government's Job Retention Scheme is implemented. The workers were given just a single day's notice.

This is completely unacceptable. It throws thousands of low-paid workers into massive financial uncertainty at what is already a worrying and difficult time. Despite SSP having a formal recognition agreement with RMT, this action appears to have been taken entirely unilaterally.

The RMT is making a noise about this online. The union's statement rightly points the finger at Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies which own/operate the stations at which SSP-run concessions are located. They must intervene to insist that SSP pays its workers, taking SSP workers into direct employment if necessary. SSP has contracts with several major corporations, including Burger King, Starbucks, Marks and Spencer, and others. These firms should also be held responsible for the welfare of the workers who work in their railway station concessions.

Mass collective direct action might not be possible right now, but the union can still organise a storm of online and social media protest, directed at SSP bosses, demanding they pay their staff. Online and social media pressure from the Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) was instrumental to getting Wetherspoons to reverse a similar policy for its workers. It can be done.

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