Rail workers with Virgin Trains East Coast vote for strike action

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.

Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 1:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 2:40 pm
Staff with Virgin Trains East Coast have voted for strike action in protest at what unions say is a threat to jobs.

Officials of the rail union RMT say 84 per cent of its members voted for strike action in a bid to safeguard jobs under proposed changes to working conditions.

And about 90 per cent of members have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike.

The result will now be considered by the union’s executive before any action takes place.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But bosses 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 RMT members take strike action.

RMT claims about 200 jobs are threatened by cuts proposed by the firm, which operates the East Coast mainline services between London, Peterborough, Grantham and 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’ jobs 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 and conditions of employment and current working practices.

“RMT’s view is clear. Long-standing agreements between our two organisations dictate that the company must negotiate 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 customer-facing roles which will see a single person take responsibility for the customer experience on our trains.

“This will have no impact on safety, and will result in a better experience for customers.

“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 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.

“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 which will cost its members pay for no reason, and to rejoin us around the negotiating table.”