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US boss accused of "union busting" at FGW

19 January 2015

MPs urged to join campaign to protect services to passengers

The American boss at the First Group, Tim O'Toole, has been accused of using "union busting" tactics in a row over jobs and services at First Great Western.

The TSSA rail union has written to 29 MPs along the route urging them to join a campaign to stop the planned cuts which could also mean de-recognition for the managerial  white collar union..

In the letter, union general secretary Manuel Cortes, accuses Tim O'Toole, chief executive of First Group, of turning the industrial relations clock back to the 1930s by threatening to de-recognise the union for managerial grades.

"Tim O'Toole is an American and many of his fellow countrymen would quaintly call this what it is - union busting. Whatever the phrase, there should be no place for it in British labour relations in the 21st century."

By withdrawing  recognition, he warns that newly non-unioned managers could then be used as "cannon fodder" in a battle with the blue collar RMT union over scrapping buffet cars on the Paddington to Bristol-Cardiff route when the new Hitachi trains enter service in 2017.

He also questions the long term future of  first class restaurant cars and the sleeper service to Cornwall if the company succeeds in scrapping buffet cars and on board catering staff in the short term.

The union has invited  29 Labour and Lib Dem MPs to a meeting in the House of Commons on February 3 discuss future campaign plans.

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