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Protest planned by GMB union for AA staff over debt loading onto company when Folkestone based Saga float on stock exchange

04 February 2014
by Matt Leclere

The trade union representing AA staff are due to hold a protest next week over the loading of debts on to the company when Folkestone-based Saga are floated on the stock exchange.

GMB, the union for staff at the AA, plan to protest outside the company's offices in Middelburg Square in Folkestone on Wednesday February 12.

They say the protest is over the loading of £4 billion worth of debts on to the AA with the company taking the next step to reduce staff costs by £6 million per year to cope with the debt.

Saga's head office in Folkestone

Saga's head office in Folkestone

It estimates each patrol will be landed with debts of £1.3m which require interests payments of at least £53,000 per year per patrol - twice the average wage paid across the AA.

AA employs 3,000 dedicated roadside patrols reaching an average of 10,000 breakdowns each day.

The protest will start at 11am next Wednesday by the Saga offices.

The company that owns the AA, Acromas which is owned by private equity companies Charterhouse, CVC Capital Partners and Permira, plans to demerge Saga and the AA when Saga is floated on the stock exchange.

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary, said: "GMB is targeting the Saga offices in Kent because Saga owners are currently dumping massive debts onto the AA.

"The private equity grandees who have asset stripped the AA plan to de-merge the AA and Saga. They intend to float Saga on the stock exchange and to take out a further £3billion and leave the AA saddled with over £4 billion of debt.

"When this happens the private equity owners will have stripped a total of £5.5 billion from the two organizations since 2004.

"Most of the current £4billion debt will be put on AA balance sheet securitised against annual fees paid by AA’s motorist members for breakdown cover."

He added this was "reckless" given that AA accoiunts show half the income in roadside assistance is spent on "servicing debts, taxes, interest and profit leaving 53.4% to be spent helping with breakdowns"

Workers will wear AA high visibility jackets and carry a large globe-like sphere on their shoulder representing "the weight of the world".

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