Transport union RMT has launched legal action on behalf of former Jarvis workers to recover £28.1m in wages and benefits which it says they are owed following the demise of the contractor earlier in the year.
The union said that legal claims relating to both individual and collective aspects of the Jarvis collapse have now been lodged with employment tribunals.
These claims are on the basis that Jarvis and its rail plant subsidiary Fastline failed to consult with RMT in relation to redundancies, that individuals were unfairly dismissed, had unlawful deductions from their wages, and that their contracts were breached.
Besides its former staff, Jarvis owes other trade creditors of its rail and plant hire businesses £33.8m and HMRC £19.7m. None are likely to receive a penny, according to administrators Deloitte.
Most of Jarvis's 30 rail maintenance contracts were for the East Coast Mainline, and have been transferred to Babcock Rail.
The group's surplus plant, machinery and equipment is being sold off, mostly by online auction, and includes two class 56 locomotives, which were fully rebuilt in 2005 at a cost of over £700,000 each.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “The Government has an obligation to the Jarvis workforce to make good the money that they are owed. These workers were employed to maintain and upgrade the nation’s railways and it’s only because of privatisation that they ended up working for an outfit like Jarvis in the first place. If the Government can find tens of billions to bail out the banks then they can find the £28 million that’s owed to the Jarvis staff.
“With the Government driving their transport cuts policy at full tilt we have redundancies at Babcock Rail, Balfour Beatty and Amey/Colas on the cards as well. Yet again it’s the workforce taking a hammering while the company directors and the banks that finance them are protected at every turn.”