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Virgin Pendolino line hit by cleaners' solidarity strike

RICHARD BRANSON’S west coast Pendolino train fleet is to be hit by cleaners’ strike action in defence of a sacked union activist.

The staff work for multinational contractor Voith at Longsight traincare depot, Manchester. More than 60 cleaners will strike for 24 hours from 7pm on Thursday June 12.

Transport union RMT accuses Voith of the “victimisation and appalling mistreatment of a work colleague and union activist.”

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “Simon Upton is an active and hardworking union representative who has continually defended RMT members.

“He has been at the forefront of organising a solid, fighting union within the company which has led to major improvements in terms and conditions.”

RMT said it was “in no doubt” that the reason for Mr Upton’s dismissal was his trade union activities.

It said that as a result of false accusations made against Mr Upton by local managers, Voith had failed to reinstate or reach an agreement over his dismissal.

The union also accused Voith of failing to adhere to its disciplinary procedures and said it should withdraw all charges against Mr Upton.

“This whole situation stinks of local management looking to settle scores and they are using the flimsiest of opportunities to do so,” said Mr Cash.

“RMT is calling for Simon’s immediate reinstatement.

“The fact that this blatant union-busting is happening on Sir Richard Branson’s prestige intercity route up the west coast should leave everyone involved hanging their heads in shame.

“RMT remains available for talks to resolve this wholly avoidable dispute.”

But so far Voith had shown “scant regard” for any form of meaningful approach to negotiate with the union to resolve the dispute, RMT claimed.

The West Coast Main Line service operates between London, the West Midlands, Wales, Manchester, North West England and Scotland. It serves a bigger population than any other main line service.

Voith was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

A Virgin Trains spokesman said: “This is a matter for Alstom, the company that has the contract with Voith, which provide the cleaners on Virgin Trains’s services.

“Alstom have told us that they will put in place contingency plans and that Virgin Trains’s customers should not see any difference to the usual high standards of cleaning.”


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