RAil workers vote for strike
84 per cent of rail union members support industrial action on Virgin Trains East Coast over threat of job cuts
Rail workers with train operator Virgin Trains East Coast have voted in favour of strike action in protest at what they claim is a threat to jobs. Officialsoftherail unionRMT say 84percentofits members voted for strike action in a bid to safeguard jobs under proposed changes to working conditions.
And about 90 per cent of membershavevotedinfavour of industrial action short of a strike.
Theresult will nowbeconsidered by the union’s executive before any action takes place.
Butbosses of Virgin Trains have pledged that there will not be any compulsory job losses.
They have also vowed to run a full timetable of train services if RMTmemberstake strike action.
RMT claims about 200 jobs are threatened by cuts proposed by the firm, which operates the East Coast mainlineservicesbetweenLondon, Peterborough, Granthamand the North.
The union is angry at what it says are cash-led measures that will harm jobs and the way the company is communicating directly with staff instead of through the union.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT will not sit back while nearly 200 members’ j obs are under threat and while conditions and safety are put at risk by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble.
“RMT is aware that management are putting out regular propaganda messages to their employees, to justify the company’s attempts to attack job security, terms andcondi- tions of employmentandcurrent working practices.
“RMT’s view is clear. Longstandingagreementsbetween our two organisations dictate thatthecompanymustnegotiate with RMT, as a recognised trade union to those agreements.”
“We will now be considering the massive mandate for action delivered by our members in this ballot and the union remains available for serious talks.”
A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: “Virgin Trains is making changes to custom- er-facing roles which will see a single person take responsibility for thecustomerexperience on our trains.
“This will have no impact on safety, and will result in a betterexperienceforcustomers.
“Virgin Trains has also given assurances on each point raised by the union at the start of the dispute – such as ruling out any compulsory redundancies as a result of the changes.
David Horne, managing director for Virgin Trains on the East Coast, said: “We have worked hard to ensure there are comprehensive contingency plans in place and I want to reassure our customers that the timetable will be unaffected, should any strike go ahead.
“The changes we are making are part of the customercentric revolution we have planned for the East Coast.
“We’re already half-way throughourcompleterefresh of our trains with all newinteriors being rolled out, and in twoyearswill haveourbrandnew Azuma trains coming into service.
“Alongside more modern trains, wewantamoderncustomer service proposition – one that focuses firmly on the customer.
“With our guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, no impact on safety and a full timetable in place during any action, we urge the RMT not to call a strike whichwillcostitsmembers pay for no reason, and to rejoin us around the negotiating table.”
The strike would involve Virgin East Coast services through Peterborough