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Caledonian Sleeper 11-day strike gets under way tomorrow

By Gavin Musgrove

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Caledonian Sleeper service will not operate for 11 nights from tomorrow unless there is a late, late breakthrough.
Caledonian Sleeper service will not operate for 11 nights from tomorrow unless there is a late, late breakthrough.

Rail union RMT has confirmed today that strike action on the Caledonian Sleeper goes ahead for 11 days from tomorrow.

Serco, which operates the service, announced last week it was cancelling services between London and Scotland after the RMT announced strike action would take place between June 15 and 26 following a ballot of members.

The RMT said that Serco have attempted to "impose a pay freeze" on rail staff, and the wholesale cancellation of services was wholly down to the operator's intransigence and refusal to recognise the hard work and commitment of their staff.

Union leaders have said the company continues to block and frustrate all attempts to get round the table to discuss ending the stalemate.

Serco said the industrial action was unjustified and would cause significant disruption to people booked to travel on board the overnight rail service.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Serco need to stop their ongoing campaign of misinformation to both passengers and staff alike and respond positively to the union approach for urgent talks.

"The wholesale cancellation of sleeper services for the durat‎ion of the strike is entirely down to their intransigence and refusal to discuss pay justice for their staff.

"It is frankly ludicrous that the company seem happy to just write off services for the best part of a fortnight when talks that could broker a solution are staring them in the face.

“RMT's action goes ahead tomorrow as this contempt towards a loyal and dedicated workforce is completely unacceptable and RMT will be backing them all the way.

“I will say it again, the union remains available for talks aimed at resolving this dispute and we await a positive response from the company.”

RMT members are not booking on for any shifts that commence between 11.59 tomorrow until 11.59 on June 26.

And with effect from 12.00 hours on ‎Saturday 26th June 2021, until further notice, members are instructed not to work any overtime and not to work on rest days.

Caledonian Sleeper bosses had initially sought to ensure some services could go ahead during this period while maintaining the expected standards of safety and guest experience.

But after a close review, a decision has been made to cancel all services.

Guests due to travel during this period have been contacted for a full refund.

The Caledonian Sleeper operators have been contacted for a response today.

Kathryn Darbandi, Serco’s managing director for the service, said at the end of last week: "The proposed strike action by the RMT is both unjustified and very disappointing, and will impact thousands of guests due to travel in the period at a time when we should all be working together to rebuild the Scottish economy.

"It will also harm our hard-working staff who will lose significant earnings as a result.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have protected staff, all of whom have received full pay even though our services have been significantly reduced.

"We have also been clear that we fully intend to resume pay talks next year, once the business is in a stronger position.

"We remain open to discussions aimed at resolving the dispute, but in the meantime, we have had no choice but to prepare for the strike to go ahead.

"Unfortunately, as a result we have taken the difficult decision to cancel our services."

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