Further strikes planned from next week
Workers on Virgin Trains West Coast have begun a 24-hour walkout in “a fight for workplace justice and equality”, bringing major disruption across rail services.
About 30 per cent of long-distance trains on the West Coast main line have been cancelled: one in three Birmingham services; the hourly links to Chester, as well as services to North Wales; Manchester via Wilmslow; and Edinburgh via Carlisle.
There are five more walkouts planned by staff, belonging to the RMT and TSSA unions, around Christmas period and in January 2018.
TSSA leader Manuel Cortes apologised for disruption to passengers, adding: “We’re obviously happy for the drivers that they have had a decent settlement, but our members believe that they too should deserve a little more than a standstill inflation pay rise.
“Passengers and staff are keeping Richard Branson up to his Necker Island in luxury, while they pay more for fares and work harder for less.”
Phil Whittingham, managing director for Virgin Trains West Coast, said: “The RMT leadership is attempting to cause disruption when many will want to travel by train to spend time with loved ones. We have explored a generous 3.6% pay increase, however the unions’ leaderships are insisting on 4%, double the 2% average increase seen across the UK this year.”
“We know how important it is for friends and families to get together over the festive season, so whilst we’re sorry for the disruption we will keep the majority of our trains running with fully-trained staff onboard and at stations. We remain open to talks with the RMT and TSSA, and urge them to call off these strikes which will cost their members pay for no gain.”