Caledonian Sleeper staff to strike over safety concerns

Caledonian Sleeper train
Caledonian Sleeper train - (Copyright PA Archive)
10:19am, Wed 23 Sep 2020
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Caledonian Sleeper staff are to take strike action next month in a row over the safety and wellbeing of workers.

The RMT rail union said Caledonian Sleeper bosses have not provided enough berths for rest periods and have not addressed the fatigue experienced by staff as a result.

Members will stage two 48-hour strikes in October and will also take action short of a strike later that month.

All hosts and team leaders working on the service have been asked not to book on for shifts starting between 5.30pm on Sunday October 4 and 5.30pm on Tuesday October 6, and from 5.30pm on Sunday October 11 and 5.30pm on Tuesday October 13.

Serco, which operates the service, described the move as “extremely disappointing” and said it is currently reviewing plans for services on the dates in question.

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.‎”

Members are also instructed not to undertake any rest day working, higher grade duties or voluntary overtime between the evening of October 6 and the evening of October 11, and to do so until further notice from 5.31pm on October 13.

Caledonian Sleeper, an overnight service between London and Scotland, is operated by Serco on behalf of Transport Scotland.

Ryan Flaherty, Serco’s managing director for Caledonian Sleeper, 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.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “We fully appreciate the challenges faced by the rail industry as we continue to transition through the Routemap to Recovery.

“While staff rosters and conditions are matters for Serco Caledonian Sleepers and the unions concerned, we would urge all parties to continue meaningful dialogue to reach a mutually agreeable solution.”

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