Virgin Trains East Coast staff to go on strike next week

Workers on Virgin Trains East Coast will strike for 24 hours on Monday, October 3.

Rail Union RMT said this is due to a threat to jobs, working conditions and safety, just weeks after three other planned strikes were cancelled last month.

The announcement comes after talks aimed at resolving a series of long-running issues at the heart of the dispute failed.

Staff have been instructed by RMT not to book on for any shifts that commence between 12.01am and 11.59pm on Monday, October 3.

Virgin Trains reassured customers in a statement it will run a full timetable during the industrial action announced.

Virgin Trains East Coast train

Virgin Trains East Coast train

RMT claims that nearly 200 jobs across the franchise are threatened by cuts proposed by the company, resulting in the remaining staff needing to cover the posts that no longer exist.

Virgin Trains have confirmed it is currently making changes to its customer-facing roles, which will see a single person take responsibility for the customer experience on trains.

However, the company claims 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.

I want to reassure our customers that our timetable will be unaffected during these walk-outs, as well as during any subsequent strikes by the RMT.

“The changes we are making are part of the customer-centric revolution we have planned for the east coast.

“We’re already more than 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.

Sir Richard Branson unveils the new Virgin Trains East Coast Azuma fleet at London King's Cross

Sir Richard Branson unveils the new Virgin Trains East Coast Azuma fleet at London King’s Cross

“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 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.”

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.

We have been shocked at the way the company has led us up the garden path when we entered talks in good faith. Our representatives are rightly angry at this cavalier approach.

“The company have chosen to treat the negotiations as a game up to now, merely going through the motions and playing for time. To behave like that is to treat the union and its members with pure contempt.

“Our members will not pay the price for a crisis cooked up in the Virgin/Stagecoach boardroom. The action is back on and the union remains available for serious talks.”