Migrant Workers To Vote On Strike Action At Roadchef

Roadchef’s withdraws five times a day staff transport costing £150,000 per annum to M3 service station with motorway only access and no public transport links

7 Jun 2007Roadchef’s withdraws five times a day staff transport costing £150,000 per annum to M3 service station with motorway only access and no public transport links GMB Southern Region has given permission for an industrial action ballot to be held for GMB members employed by Roadchef on the service station between junctions 8 and 9 north of Winchester. The dispute is over the withdrawal of coach transport to and from the site for staff from June 9th 2007.The coach travels from Southampton and picks up at Eastleigh and Winchester to the service station north and the service station south and then back to Southampton. It takes an hour to travel from Southampton to the service station south. There is no interchange between the service station north and the service station south and the only access to these two service stations is from the motorway and there is no public transport links whatsoever. The service operates five times a day at 6 a.m., 9 a.m., 2 p.m., 10.p.m. from Southampton and 7 p.m.from service station north back to Southampton. The service is used by over 90% of the 80 staff who are mainly migrant workforce who are mainly from Polandand Portugal. The overwhelming majority of these staff are GMB members. The company has had difficulty recruiting staff to work at this remote service station and had to lay on transport to attract a workforce.

The employers have been threatening to withdraw the service on the grounds that it is costing them too much since February of this year. The staffs have been in a state of uncertainty for almost five months. On the 17th May 2007 the company have given formal notice that the transport service will be withdrawn as of the 9th June 2007. After that date staff will have to make their own arrangements to get to work. Management have offered staff £5.80 a day towards the cost of travelling over 70 miles round trip each day on the motorway. The only way staff can get to work is by road transport and 90% of the staff do not own cars and could not afford to buy and run them since they are low paid workers.

Negotiations between the company and GMB at local level have failed to reach agreement and the union faced with the unilateral withdrawal of the service on 9th June are now proceeding to an industrial action ballot to secure the reinstatement of the essential staff transport. This is because members who are unable to get to work will be deemed to have dismissed themselves.

Gary Cook, GMB Organiser said, “This is a cowardly attack by an already profitable company on some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK on the grounds of reducing the cost of an essential transport service just to boost profits. GMB will defend our members and we will respond to this attack. GMB will get overwhelming support from our members for action to solve their problem of getting to and from work.

GMB want to meet the owners Delek to sort out this problem. We want them to maintain the transport service until we arrive at a solution.”



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