Socialist Worker

Roadchef workers ballot for strike as transport is cut

Issue No. 2054

Migrant workers at Roadchef are balloting for strike action after the company threat to withdraw to the M3 service station with motorway only access and no public transport links.

The workers, members of the GMB Southern Region, work at the service station between junctions eight and nine, north of Winchester. The dispute is over the withdrawal of coach transport to and from the site for staff from 9 June.

The coach travels to and from Southampton and picks up at Eastleigh and Winchester, stopping off at the service station north and the service station south. 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 – the only access to these two service stations is from the motorway and there are no public transport links whatsoever.

The service is used by more than 70 of the 80 staff, who are mainly migrant workers from Poland and 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.

On the 17 May the company gave formal notice that the transport service will be withdrawn as of 9 June. 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 percent of the staff do not own cars. As low paid workers they could not afford to buy or run them.

GMB organiser Gary Cook said, 'This is a cowardly attack by a profitable company on some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK – just to boost profits.'

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