East Coast rail passengers face disruption as union calls two day strike against Virgin

There will be a 48-hour strike affecting Virgin East Coast.
There will be a 48-hour strike affecting Virgin East Coast.
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Passengers on the East Coast Main Line face disruption latest this month after rail union RMT announced a two day strike against Virgin Trains.

The union has called the 48-hour strike on April 28-29 in "disgust" at "the ever-increasing contempt being displayed to members on board trains, on stations and in travel centres by the employer."

RMT has sought an explicit clarification on the company’s position on the retention of the role of the guard, in the form of seeking a specific assurance from the employer that the new role of train manager will retain the safety critical roles and training currently held by train guards.

The only response the company has offered is to repeat the vague and non-committal mantra of “within our discussions we have confirmed that the safety critical duties of the guard will remain on the train”.

A spokesman said: "This mealy-mouthed form of words gives no reassurance to RMT members in the front-line nor any protection from the possible introduction of Driver Only Operation.

"To simply state that the duties will remain on the train but not to specify who will actually carry them out constitutes a meaningless statement with no assurance contained whatsoever.

Consultation over widespread on-board changes has been going on for over a year. RMT has told the employer that their proposed changes will not work. Despite this, the company has implemented the changes from March 31, with no agreement with the union.

The strike action will take place between 00.01 hours on Friday 28th April 2017 and 23.59 hours on Saturday 29th April 2017.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “It is simply appalling that Virgin East Coast have refused to give the most basic assurances on the safety-critical role of the guard on their trains continuing into the future. Instead they have sought to fob us off with meaningless statements that are frankly an insult to the intelligence of our members who are charged with maintaining safety on-board these inter-city trains.

“On top of that chaotic, operational changes have been bulldozed through and there is now an additional threat to stations and travel centre staff that leaves our members on a knife-edge.

“This contemptuous attitude has unleashed a tidal-wave of anger at the grass roots and the action we have agreed to put on is simply a reflection of the disgust and frustration at months of ducking and diving by Virgin/Stagecoach.

“The action is on and the union remains available for meaningful and genuine talks.”