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Union moves to ballot staff on possible strike over 'deplorable' Caledonian Sleeper conditions

By Gregor White

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The RMT has raised concerns about staff welfare off the back of what it called the chaotic introduction of new rolling stock.

General secretary Mick Cash said the union is making immediate preparations for a ballot over concerns about reports from some representatives in relation to the introduction of new rolling stock.

"The introduction of these new trains should be a positive move for both our members and the railway industry," he said. "However, this could not be further from the truth, with the situation now reaching breaking point. The union has informed the company that it is being widely reported that stress and mental health issues are rife amongst members, as well as members having physical breakdowns and being left in tears at the end of their shift.

"The situation is clearly not helped with insufficient staffing levels, insufficient training and management being unresponsive.

"The union has informed the company that the morale of their employees has collapsed; with some unable to see how they are ever going to have anything like a good work-life balance again.

"This situation is deplorable and the response from Serco has been inadequate, dismissive and has totally broken industrial relations between our two organisations."

He added: "RMT’s national executive committee has considered this matter and is disappointed at the company’s clear lack of care for our members.

"Accordingly, the union is now in dispute with the company and immediate preparations are underway for balloting our Serco Caledonian Sleeper members for strike action and action short of strike."

Earlier this week it was reported that the introduction of new Caledonian Sleeper carriages for routes from London to Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William had been delayed for more than a month.

Due to come into service on June 2 this was pushed back to July 7 with Scotland's transport secretary, Michael Matheson, blaming Spanish manufacturer CAF for being unable to supply enough carriages in time.

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