24-hour strikes on Virgin Trains East Coast

A Virgin train on the East Coast mainline.
A Virgin train on the East Coast mainline.
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Workers on Virgin Trains East Coast are to stage three 24-hour strikes this month, including one on Bank Holiday Monday.

The rail union RMT today announced the programme of action over what it describes as a threat to jobs, working conditions and safety.

RMT members will go on strike for 24 hours from 3am on Friday, August 19, and Friday, August 26. The third day of action will take place on Monday, August 29.

There will also be a 48-hour overtime ban from 3am on August 27.

Depot maintenance workers will not be taking strike action.

The two sides are in dispute over staffing changes, which the company says would have no impact on safety and no compulsory job losses. The RMT says a package of cuts was being ‘bulldozed through’.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT will not sit back while nearly 200 members’ jobs are under threat and while conditions and safety are put at risk by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble.

“Long-standing agreements between our two organisations dictate that the company must negotiate with RMT, as a recognised trade union to those agreements, yet the company say these changes are a consultative process. That is simply not true. Any changes to staff terms and conditions are negotiable matters.

“The company have chosen to treat the negotiations as a game thus far, merely going through the motions of pretending they did not yet know what their plans entailed. To behave like that is to treat the union and its members with pure contempt.”

David Horne, managing director for Virgin Trains on the East Coast, said the timetable will be unaffected during the walk-outs and urged the RMT to return to the negotiating table.

“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,” he said.

“The changes we are making are part of the customer-centric revolution we have planned for the East Coast. We’re already half-way through our complete refresh of our trains with all new interiors being rolled out, and in two years will have our brand-new Azuma trains coming into service. Alongside more modern trains, we want a modern customer service proposition - one that focuses firmly on the customer.”