25 November 2015
RMT Press Office
RMT ballot for action in dispute with Serco Caledonian Sleeper opens next week.
Rail union RMT confirmed today that the process of balloting members on the Caledonian Sleeper in a dispute with new operator Serco will begin next week with the ballot closing on the 15th December. Ballot papers will be sent out to members on Tuesday 1st December with a recommendation from the union to vote YES for both strike action and action short of a strike.
Despite a number of meetings between RMT negotiators and senior company management over the last few months progress has not been made on the raft of issues in dispute leaving RMT with no choice other than to proceed to ballot members over the company's failure to address the number of defects contained within the rolling stock.
The union says that some of the defects are potentially dangerous to the staff on board and the travelling public who are paying top dollar prices for a service which is unreliable, increasingly uncomfortable and riddled with health, safety and welfare issues.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
"The poor service to passengers, in conjunction with the company's failure to address the issues raised by RMT representatives and officials in recent talks, has now reached the point where the union has decided enough is enough and we will now proceed to ballot for industrial action before someone is injured. That ballot will open next week and close on the 15th December.
"The sleeper franchise was awarded to Serco by the Scottish Government and the multi-national privateer took over from First Group on March 31st this year. Our members have been unhappy with Serco's management of the iconic service from Scotland to London since the very early days of them taking on this fifteen year franchise. This is yet another example of Serco winning public sector contracts and failing to deliver for the tax payer, passengers and staff. "
Mick Cash went on to say Serco's continued failings to run a rail service should be a wake-up call to the Scottish Government in advance of the announcement of the winner of the lifeline ferry service on Scotland's west coast currently delivered by the public sector through Calmac ferries.
"Although it is a separate issue from the sleeper dispute, the Scottish Government must pay heed to the warnings from RMT and opposition politicians about the broken promises from Serco on their deliverance of public services and ensure the announcement regarding the award of the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Service is made in advance of the Scottish parliamentary elections next May. "
"Serco is a company who are specialists in failure when it comes to public sector contracts and RMT has no intention of allowing them to get away with compromising the safety of staff and passengers on the sleeper service."
Note to editors:
The catalogue of SERCO failures on the sleeper services
Health safety and welfare issues include;
• Smoke detectors disconnected, toilets being inoperable , lighting and heating systems not working.
• Air conditioning problems throughout the summer which left passengers sweltering in the sleeping berths.
• No hot water in some coaches for hand washing purposes. Water boilers not working which means staff need to go to other coaches to fill containers with boiling water which then has to be carried through coaches while train is moving.
• Pungent smell from toilets and an issue with batteries under some coaches also giving off a strong smell.
• Loss of power in coaches during journeys which means staff have to find alternative accommodation during the night for irate passengers.
• Serious problem with a huge number of wheel flats which has led to some services being completely cancelled and passengers being bussed from Scotland to London.
• There are currently over 200 defects on these trains ( not including the wheel flats).