Virgin Trains East Coast staff latest to join strikes

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Staff on Virgin Trains East Coast are the latest to join strike action in the ongoing row over the role of guards and their jobs.

Members of the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) Union who work for Virgin East Coast will walk out in industrial action across both the 28th and 29th April – a Friday and Saturday.

The RMT has said that Virgin have failed to deliver “explicit clarification” on their retention of guards given the impending driver-only train planned staffing levels. Virgin have confirmed that they will be providing new ‘Train Managers’, but whether or not their role will be safety-critical (as guards are now) remains to be seen.

A statement from the union said: “The only response the company has offered is to repeat the vague and non-committal mantra of ‘within our discussions we have confirmed that the safety-critical duties of the guard will remain on the train. This mealy-mouthed form of words gives no reassurance to RMT members in the front line nor any protection from the possible introduction of driver-only operation.”

The RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “It is simply appalling that Virgin East Coast have refused to give the most basic assurances on the safety-critical role of the guard on their trains continuing into the future.  Instead they have sought to fob us off with meaningless statements that are, frankly, an insult to the intelligence of our members who are charged with maintaining safety on board these intercity trains. On top of that, chaotic operational changes have been bulldozed through and there is now an additional threat to stations and travel centre staff that leaves our members on a knife-edge.”

Author Lex Barber

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