Posted 23rd September 2020 | 6 Comments

RMT to stage strikes on Caledonian Sleeper

Updated 09.44

MEMBERS of the RMT are to take industrial action on Caledonian Sleeper in October after a strike ballot, in protest at what the union claims is ‘SERCO's lack of concern for members’ safety and wellbeing’, and also the company’s ‘refusal’ to negotiate.

Walkouts of sleeper hosts and sleeper team leaders have been called from 17.30 on 4 October until the same time on 6 October, and again from 17.30 on 11 October until 17.30 on the 13th.

There will also be a ban on rest day working, working in a higher grade and voluntary overtime from 17.31 on 6 October until 17.29 on the 11th, and then from 17.31 on the 13th until further notice.

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.‎’

Caledonian Sleeper managing director Ryan Flaherty responded: ‘We have been advised by the RMT that its members intend to take strike action. 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.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Andrew Gwilt, Benfleet Essex

    Could see more strikes happening to other rail operators that have had strikes before the Coronavirus pandemic happened. And the government took over the Northern franchise.

  • Steve Alston, Crewe

    This was actually full last few nights, and I agree the staff should have proper digs provided on board... if the yanks can design a small bunk for staff, with these being built from scratch, so can we.

    The recent incident with the set sailing through Edinburgh Waverley, averted by on train staff, and the fire on board the Cornish sleeper in 1978 which left 12 dead highlights the need for sleeper staff to be both well trained, and well rested.

  • Matthew Ellis, Woking

    Good to see the RMT has it's head in the sand as per normal.

    If these staff go on strike, the service will be ended and they will be collecting their redundancy shortly thereafter.

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    I think the RMT has bit off more than they can chew here. Loadings are no doubt very light. Considering the death of franchising this service becomes nothing but a drain on the taxpayers. I agree with the previous comment that Serco may just hand back the keys. If the Scottish government thinks this is important enough to maintain for business & tourism to Scotland they may have to stump up the full cost of providing this service, or simply decide that it isn't worth the expenditure. Despite what the RMT may think the supply of government/taxpayer funding has its limits.

  • Tony Pearce, Reading

    I'd be interested to know the loadings on this Train, especially since the March lockdown. I wonder what the future of the train actually is. I was surprised that it was kept anyway. It could easily be the first service that is chopped permanently. Job and Service cuts may well happen anyway because of the Covid crisis. Keeping the actually lines open with a reduced service might be the best we can all hope for.

  • I Walker, Preston

    If I were in Serco's position the positive response would be to hand back the keys to the franchise and cut their losses. .