9 August 2016
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT today confirmed an 84% vote in favour of strike action in its ballot of members on Virgin Trains East Coast over a threat to jobs, working conditions and safety.
In addition nearly 90% voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike. The result will now be considered by the union executive.
The ongoing dispute came to a head as the company chose to ignore the agreed negotiating machinery and subjected staff to a barrage of direct propaganda justifying their attempts to bulldoze through a package of cash-led measure that would decimate jobs, working conditions and threaten the safety regime that currently ensures a guard on every train. Nearly 200 jobs across the franchise are threatened by the cuts.
RMT is aware of talk within the industry that Virgin/Stagecoach seriously overbid for the East Coast franchise when the publicly-run service was kicked out despite being hugely successful. It is thought that VTEC’s incompetence means that they are losing a fortune every week and are now looking to hack back on the staffing budget to try and prop up their position.
From day one, RMT has asked the company to give us assurances on 6 main points:
1. Redeployment and protection agreements will be adhered to at all times.
2. There will be no compulsory redundancies.
3. A safety-critical guard will be present on every train.
4. Confirmation of establishment staffing numbers.
5. TUPE to be adhered to
6. Rates of pay to be protected
Those assurances have not been forthcoming, the union has been ignored and now in the wake of a strong mandate for industrial action in this ballot the RMT National Executive Committee is considering the next course of action.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
"RMT will not sit back while nearly 200 members' jobs are under threat and while conditions and safety are put at risk by a franchise which is clearly in financial trouble.
"RMT is aware that VTEC management are putting out regular propaganda messages to their employees, to justify the company`s attempts to attack job security, terms and conditions of employment and current working practices. In response to company propaganda, RMT’s view is clear. Long-standing agreements between our two organisations dictate that the company must negotiate with RMT, as a recognised trade union to those agreements, yet the company say these changes are a consultative process. That is simply not true. Any changes to staff terms and conditions are negotiable matters.
“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.
“Our members will not pay the price for a crisis cooked up in the Virgin/Stagecoach boardroom. We will now be considering the massive mandate for action delivered by our members in this ballot and the union remains available for serious talks .”