UNREST across Britain’s franchised railways deepened yesterday after Virgin East Coast staff voted to go on strike over jobs, safety and working conditions.
RMT union members, already embroiled in a bitter dispute on Southern, backed walkouts by 84 per cent with nine in 10 supporting other forms of industrial action.
Both sides are in dispute over staffing changes, which RMT says are part of a package of cuts being “bulldozed through” by the company.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash vowed that the union would not sit back while nearly 200 members’ jobs were under threat.
He claimed that conditions and safety are being put at risk by a franchise “clearly in financial trouble” and accused the company of putting out regular propaganda messages to employees to justify its plans.
Mr Cash pointed to “long-standing agreements” that dictate Virgin must negotiate with RMT but argue the company has chosen to treat the negotiations as “a game.
“To behave like that is to treat the union and its members with pure contempt,” he said.
“Our members will not pay the price for a crisis cooked up in the Virgin 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.”
Virgin East Coast claims the changes would have no effect on safety and no compulsory job losses.