UK

Virgin Trains East Coast strikes to be held in August

A Virgin East Coast train Image copyright PA

Workers on Virgin Trains East Coast are to stage three 24-hour strikes this month, including one on Bank Holiday Monday, the RMT union has said.

Members will walk out from 03:00 BST on 19, 26 and 29 August and ban overtime for 48 hours from 27 August, in a row over cuts, work conditions and safety.

The RMT said the dispute involved about 1,800 members, saying Virgin Trains was trying to "bulldoze" through changes.

Virgin said its timetable will be "unaffected" during the walkouts.

The firm - which operates services to London, Edinburgh, Leeds and York - said it was 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," it added.

It said the union "walked out of talks" on Thursday after "refusing to enter further discussions".

David Horne, managing director for Virgin Trains on the east coast, 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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Media captionVirgin's Richard Scott says he is "puzzled by the union's actions" as the company had given assurances there would be no compulsory redundancies

However, the RMT has said almost 200 jobs are under threat on the train line.

It said train guards, station staff and some drivers were set to take part in the walkouts. Depot maintenance workers will not be taking strike action.

The union accused Virgin and Stagecoach, who run the franchise, of trying to "bulldoze through a package of cash-led measures that would decimate jobs, working conditions and threaten the safety regime that currently ensures a guard on every train".

General secretary Mick Cash said members would "not tolerate the cavalier attitude to safety that is now on show as the company mobilises its scab army of managers".

He added: "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 members on Virgin East Coast rail workers voted in favour of strikes by 84%, the union said this week.

It comes as the first of four separate Eurostar strikes by staff from two unions - including the RMT - began on Friday. It also follows strikes earlier in the week on Southern Railway.

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