Labour politicians urge ministers to host Railcare summit

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Labour politicians from Milton Keynes and Glasgow have joined forces to urge the Government to hold a summit to help secure the future of struggling rail engineering firm Railcare.

Railcare went into administration on July 31, leading to job losses and uncertainty about the future of the company’s two depots in Wolverton and Springburn.

Politicians from the two cities have written to Business Secretary Vince Cable, urging him to meet with staff representatives from the firm. Despite William Bain MP writing to Vince Cable on August 1, ministers have not met with local MPs or union representatives to discuss the future of the firm.

Glasgow City Council Leader, Cllr Gordon Matheson, has now joined with William Bain MP, Cllr Peter Marland, Labour Group Leader on Milton Keynes Council, and Labour parliamentary candidates to urge BIS to convene a special meeting with the Department for Transport, Railcare unions, local councils and MPs to discuss the future of the company and conditions for staff.

The letter to Vince Cable is as follows:

Dear Mr Cable

We are writing to request a joint meeting to discuss the future of Railcare and the impact on the UK’s rail future with workers from the company. The depots at Glasgow and Wolverton are a vital part of UK rail infrastructure, with a successful future ahead of them if they can get through the immediate difficulties facing Railcare.

Whilst union representatives and locally elected representatives have met with government officials, this has not advanced to Ministerial level meetings as yet. William Bain MP emailed your office on 1 August requesting a Ministerial meeting, as soon as the company entered administration, yet no date has been fixed yet. We understand that a Minister has now agreed to meet one of the Milton Keynes MPs when Parliament returns from recess.

We strongly urge you to provide the strongest possible sign to the Railcare workforce, customers of the firm and the rail industry that the Government, together with the Scottish Government, is taking all the action it can to ensure an ongoing role for rail work at both depots. Ongoing uncertainty about the future of firm risks further destabilising rescue plans and future orders. It is essential that the Government helps broker a successful resolution for the firm, and provides stability for the workforce whilst negotiations continue.

The redundancies have been a terrible blow to workers and the communities in both Glasgow and Milton Keynes. The handling of the redundancies itself was extremely harrowing for those involved. We have spoken to staff who described the experience as the worst of their lives as they waited to hear if their name would be read out on the shop floor.

Whilst the Department for Work and Pensions, and councils are providing advice to staff made redundant, there has been no answer on whether remaining staff will be paid for their work in July, or how quickly redundancy payments will be processed for staff made redundant. Those made redundant have not been paid since June. With prices continuing to outpace living costs, this is causing severe hardship for many affected families.

The future of Railcare is directly linked to the success of the rail industry throughout the UK. These are highly-skilled, important engineering jobs that could be lost from the rail industry with orders and future work going abroad.

There is need for urgent action to help secure the future of the firm, and skilled jobs in Glasgow and Wolverton. We call upon you, as Secretary of State, to meet with union representatives from the firm, and to convene a Railcare Care summit to bring the relevant interests together to discuss the future of the firm. We urge you to bring together the unions, Network Rail, local councils and constituency MPs/MSPs from both depots, along with the administrator, as soon as possible to discuss the future for the firm.

We are committed to fighting for a future that works and would urge you to come together with us, the unions and the workforce so we can work together to protect this vital industry.

Your Sincerely,

William Bain MP

Cllr Gordon Matheson, Leader, Glasgow City Council

Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of the Labour Group, Milton Keynes Council

Julia Long, National Officer, Unite

Andrew Pakes, Labour & Co-operative Parliamentary Candidate for Milton Keynes South

Emily Darlington, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Milton Keynes North