UK

Virgin East Coast rail staff to strike on 3 October

Virgin East Coast train Image copyright PA
Image caption Virgin Trains East Coast operates services between London, the North East and Scotland

Workers on Virgin Trains East Coast are to stage a 24-hour strike on Monday 3 October, the RMT union has announced.

The union said the action was being taken over threatened job cuts, as well as disputes over working conditions and safety.

It said talks aimed at resolving the issues had failed and staff had been instructed not to work any shifts between 00:01 and 23:59 BST on the day.

Virgin Trains said it would be running a full timetable during the strike.

Virgin Trains East Coast, which operates services between London, the North East and Scotland, said it was making changes to customer-facing roles which would "see a single person take responsibility for the customer experience on our trains".

The RMT union claims the measures would lead to job cuts and impact on working conditions and safety measures which currently ensure a guard on every train.

It said nearly 200 jobs were threatened by the cuts and remaining staff would be expected to cover the extra work.

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.

"We will also not tolerate the cavalier attitude to safety that is now on show as the company mobilises its scab army of managers."

Workers on Virgin Trains East Coast had planned three 24-hour strikes for August after 84% of workers voted in favour of a walk-out.

The industrial action was suspended after the RMT and Virgin Trains agreed to continue negotiations.

'Good faith'

Mr Cash added: "The union suspended an earlier programme of action when it looked like serious progress was being made in talks but that process has now failed to reach a satisfactory conclusion and we are back into industrial action as a result.

"We have been shocked at the way the company have led us up the garden path when we entered talks in good faith."

Virgin Trains said the changes would have "no impact" on safety and had assured the union there would be no compulsory redundancies.

It announced it had a "detailed contingency plan" that meant it could operate a full timetable during the strike.

David Horne, Virgin Trains East Coast managing director, said: "With our guarantees that there will be no compulsory redundancies, no impact on safety and a full timetable in place during the walk-outs, these strikes will cost RMT members pay for no reason, and we urge the union to rejoin us around the negotiating table."

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