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Caledonian Sleeper workers to strike, rail union announces

Caledonian Sleeper
Caledonian Sleeper

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union have voted in favour of strike action – meaning potential disruption to the Caledonian Sleeper service next month.

The route, which connects Scotland to London, is travelled by thousands each year and includes departures from Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness.

RMT has said members have returned an “overwhelming ballot result” portraying a “clear desire to take industrial action against Serco’s lack of concern for member’s safety and wellbeing”.

The union claims operator Serco has refused to negotiate and has displayed a “clear lack of regard for the welfare of its staff”.

It argues that “insufficient berths for rest periods” have been provided.

Strike action will be implemented over two 48-hour periods by sleeper hosts and sleeper team leaders on the Caledonian Sleeper.

RMT has urged its members not to book shifts that commence between 5.30pm on October 4 and 5.30pm on  October 6, and again a week later from 5.30pm on October 11 and 5.30pm on October 13.

Additionally, action short of a strike is being recommended to members not to undertake any rest day working or higher grade duties or voluntary overtime from 5.31pm on October 6 until 5.29pm on October 11.

Union members are also urged to repeat the process from 5.31pm on Tuesday October 13 until further notice.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our vote shows that members on Serco Caledonian Sleeper are absolutely determined to seek justice in this dispute and I am sure this will be displayed by full support across the service for this industrial action.

“A clear message has been sent to management by the vote and now by this call to action.

“It is now time for the Serco management to respond in a meaningful and positive way to the serious safety issues at the heart of this dispute.‎”

Serco has said it is disappointed at the action at a time when they feel the focus should be on rebuilding the economy and maintaining vital transport links.

Managing director for Caledonian Sleeper Ryan Flaherty said: “We have been advised by the RMT that its members intend to take strike action on Caledonian Sleeper services next month. This is despite less than a third of our workforce voting in favour of this in their ballot.

“We are currently reviewing plans for services on the dates in question and will update guests should there be any changes that affect them.

“Since we started operating a reduced programme in March, all staff have received their full wage despite working significantly reduced hours.

“We have done everything possible to provide staff with rest areas on board and have also engaged with an independent fatigue specialist to review working patterns, even though we do not accept the claim that it is an issue.

“The decision to launch strike action is especially disappointing as it comes at a time when all of our focus should be on supporting the Scottish Government to rebuild the economy and maintain vital transport links.”

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