The RMT union has confirmed staff on the Caledonian Sleeper train will strike from 29 September to 1 October in a dispute over working conditions.
The union claims operator Serco has “reneged” on promises to address “a raft of serious concerns raised by staff that have ruined working lives and placed the workforce under intolerable pressure”.
Since it started phasing in new trains in June, the Caledonian Sleeper service has suffered a number of issues, including broken-down trains, several days of delays and cancellations caused by damage to wheels by a technical problem and an incident in which a train overshot Edinburgh Waverley station.
According to the RMT, staff raised a number of concerns about working conditions with the company in July, at which point Serco promised to address the issues. The union now claims the firm has not followed through with its pledges.
After talks this week failed to end in a settlement, RMT said it had “no option” but to call on members to not book on for shifts from 1200 on 29 September until 1159 on 1 October.
Furthermore, it has instructed staff not to work any overtime or rest days and not to perform “higher grade duties” under an essential ‘work to rule’ strike from 2 October until further notice – meaning staff will only perform those duties outlined in their original job description.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash commented: “The union is angry and frustrated that the promises made to us to address the serious concerns of the Caledonian Sleeper staff at the end of July have not been honoured and that leaves us with no choice but to activate our industrial action mandate.
“RMT members have been put under intolerable personal stress as a result of the company’s mismanagement of the sleeper service. They know it, they have promised to do something about it but they have failed to deliver. The move to strike action is entirely Serco’s fault and the public will understand that. Everyone knows that when it comes to failure they are global specialists.”
Cash added that the union “remains available” to return to the negotiating table.
According to the BBC, Caledonian Sleeper MD Ryan Flaherty said the company had met with the RMT and company council “on many occasions”. He claimed the changes staff had requested “have either been completed or are under way”.
Flaherty said steps taken included the recruitment of more staff at Edinburgh, Glasgow and London while the new trains “settle in”. He added: “This action is completely unnecessary and we urge the RMT to come back and tell us what they want. We are ready to go to mediation and hold further discussions.”