Strike threat could hit Virgin trains from Yorkshire to London

Union members at Virgin East Coast will start voting next week on whether to launch a campaign of action.
Union members at Virgin East Coast will start voting next week on whether to launch a campaign of action.
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TRAINS from York, Leeds and Doncaster to London could be hit by another threatened strike by union members.

Virgin East Coast is the latest rail company to face the threat of industrial action after the biggest rail union said it would ballot its members for strikes in a row over jobs and working conditions.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at the company, which operates the east coast main line, will start voting next week on whether to launch a campaign of action.

The union said the dispute has been brewing for months, accusing the company of trying to “bulldoze through” cost-cutting measures which would “decimate” jobs.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is aware that Virgin 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.

“In response to company propaganda, 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, 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.

“RMT will not sit back while our members’ jobs, conditions and safety are threatened by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble. Our members will not pay the price for a crisis cooked up in the Virgin boardroom. The ballot is on and the union remains available for talks.”

The ballot result is due on August 9.

Virgin Trains said: “We are puzzled by the RMT’s decision to ballot as we have ruled out compulsory redundancies. A strike would also cost our people pay for no reason, and we have well prepared contingency plans which mean we expect to run a full timetable with customers travelling as normal. We would welcome the RMT reopening discussions at any point.”

The union is also embroiled in industrial disputes at Southern Rail, which has seen services decimated.

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) has also warned of industrial action over jobs at Virgin Trains East Coast.

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