Nia Griffith MP was alarmed this week to hear about plans which could lead to reduced staffing levels on First Great Western (FGW) inter-city trains to Wales and the West Country. Representatives of the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) came to Parliament to alert MPs representing constituencies on the First Great Western routes of impending changes. Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of TSSA explained that FGW bosses are taking steps to de-recognise the TSSA as the negotiating body with managerial staff as a prelude to slashing staffing levels on trains and taking on the RMT. That would result in passengers getting a worse service, with no assistance or refreshments available for journeys of up to six hours, whilst taxpayers subsidies are siphoned off as profits for this private company which has had a monopoly on bidding for the franchise.
Commenting on the meeting, Nia Griffith MP said, ” I am very concerned
indeed about the effect on passenger safety and comfort, if First Great Western do decide to reduce staffing levels, cutting train managers and buffets. It is not like on the London Underground where you are little more than 90 seconds away from the next tube station where help is at hand. On the First Great Western trains to London, it can be 30 minutes to the next scheduled stop, and passenger incidents do occur. In this day and age, it is also a very backward step for First Great Western to stop recognising TSSA as the legitimate representatives of staff, especially when the company has been given a large government franchise. That is going to do nothing for staff relations. To drive forward improvements, you need the best possible relations with staff. This does not bode well for passengers or staff. I shall certainly be seeking clarification from First Great Western, and raising my concerns with Ministers and fellow MPs in Parliament.”