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Caledonian Sleeper staff set to take industrial action over health and safety concerns

By Louise Glen

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Caledonian Sleeper departs Inverness.
Caledonian Sleeper departs Inverness.

RMT union members have voted to take four days of industrial action over health and safety concerns in regard to staff fatigue.

During October passengers using the overnight Scotland to London sleeper rail service are being warned to expect disruption after RMT union members have voted to take industrial action.

In a press statement, RMT said members showed a "clear desire" to take industrial action against operator Serco's "lack of concern for member's safety and wellbeing" and the company's refusal to negotiate with their union.

Sleeper hosts and team leaders will stage a walkout from 5.30pm on Sunday October 4 until 5.30pm on Tuesday October 6.

They will again strike for 48 hours between 5.30pm on Sunday October 11 and 5.30pm on Tuesday October 13.

In addition, a ban on overtime, working on days off and undertaking higher-grade duties will also be imposed from October 6 –11 and indefinitely from October 13.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Our vote shows that members on SERCO Caledonian Sleeper are absolutely determined to seek justice in this dispute and I am sure this will be displayed by full support across the service for this industrial action.

"A clear message has been sent to management by the vote and now by this call to action. It is now time for the SERCO management to respond in a meaningful and positive way to the serious safety issues at the heart of this dispute.‎"

Ryan Flaherty, Serco’s managing director for Caledonian Sleeper, said: “We have been advised by the RMT that its members intend to take strike action on Caledonian Sleeper services next month. This is despite less than a third of our workforce voting in favour of this in their ballot.

“We are currently reviewing plans for services on the dates in question and will update guests should there be any changes that affect them.

“Since we started operating a reduced programme in March, all staff have received their full wage despite working significantly reduced hours."

In October the independent regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) revealed that the Caledonian Sleeper has the worst passenger complaint rate in the whole of the UK.

The latest ORR data for trips between January and March revealed the service between London and Scotland received 206 complaints per every 100,000 journeys, up by 67 per cent on the previous year.

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