RMT votes for strike to 'bring Caledonian Sleeper to its knees'

A rail union has threatened to bring Caledonian Sleeper “to its knees” after staff voted to strike over using spare berths for rest breaks during extended shifts.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 7:00 am
Staff have complained of fatigue from extended shifts

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) backed a walk out by 44 votes to 11, and other industrial action by 49 votes to six, on a 72 per cent turnout.

The union’s leadership is deciding whether to call a strike, which would require a week’s notice.

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It follows staff on the overnight trains between Scotland and London complaining of fatigue while working shifts of up to 16-and-a-half hours.

The RMT said operator Serco had refused to provide extra spare berths for staff to take breaks.

Mick Hogg, the union’s Scottish organiser, said: “We will now be demanding that more berths are allocated to staff for the purpose of rest periods and down time for staff, as opposed to the corporate greed of Serco who have been more interested in selling berths at £500 each rather than addressing the staff’s fatigue issues.

“If this outfit don’t meet our demands we will bring them to their knees.”

Ryan Flaherty, Serco’s managing director for Caledonian Sleeper, said he was “extremely disappointed” at the prospect of industrial action as it had been voted for by less than a third of the workforce.

He said: “This is particularly surprising and disappointing, as since we started operating a reduced programme in March, all staff have received their full wage despite working significantly reduced hours.

“The agreement we reached with the RMT last year to provide a guest room for rest, in addition to the other onboard train spaces available, is still in place.

“Nonetheless, whilst we do not accept the RMT claim that fatigue is an issue resulting from our operations during the pandemic period, we have asked the Rail Safety and Standards Board to review our rosters and have engaged an independent fatigue specialist to review working patterns and ensure no member of staff faces unnecessary fatigue.

“This review is currently underway, which makes this move by the RMT even harder to understand.

“We hope a solution can be reached.

"We would encourage the RMT to consider the cost any further action, and any proposed solution, will have on taxpayers when the Scottish Government is working to rebuild the economy.”

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