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16 September 2019
Serco sleeper workers announce two-day strike

Image credit: Flickr, Ed Webster

Serco sleeper workers announce two-day strike

Caledonian Sleeper workers have announced a two-day strike for the end of this month over claims Serco has “reneged” on promises to address “serious concerns” raised by staff.

Rail Union RMT today confirmed its members at Caledonian Sleeper services had been told “not to book on for any shifts” from midday Sunday 29 September until 11.59am Tuesday 1 October.

Additionally, RMT members have been instructed “not to work any overtime or rest days, not to perform higher grade duties and to work to their original job description” from 12am Wednesday 2 October, until further notice.

The union said its representatives had held several meetings with sleeper service operator Serco and “reported back that insufficient progress has been made and that middle management have been openly hostile to finalising a settlement”.

It said Serco had “reneged on pledges to address a raft of serious concerns raised by staff that have ruined working lives and placed the workforce under ‎intolerable pressure”.

RMT informed the employer this week that “due to their failures to deliver on the promises made, and the fact that the members have had enough of their broken promises, we have no option but to move to a programme of strike action”.

"The union is angry and frustrated that promises made to us to address the serious concerns of the Caledonian Sleeper staff at the end of July have not been honoured and that leaves us with no choice but to activate our industrial action mandate,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash said.

“‎RMT members have been put under intolerable personal stress as a result of the company's mismanagement of the sleeper service.

“They know it, they have promised to do something about it, but they have failed to deliver.

“The move to strike action is entirely Serco’s fault and the public will understand that. Everyone knows that when it comes to failure, they are global specialists. The union remains available for genuine and serious talks.”

Serco managing director of the Caledonian Sleeper Ryan Flaherty said the service was “deeply disappointed and frustrated at this industrial action, but most of all we are bemused as they have been unable to explain what will bring this dispute to a resolution".

“We have met the RMT and company council on many occasions and the changes they have requested have either been completed or are underway, including the recruitment of more staff at Edinburgh, Glasgow and London for a six-month period whilst the new Mark 5 carriages settle in,” he said.

“This action is completely unnecessary, and we urge the RMT to come back and tell us what they want. We are ready to go to mediation and hold further discussions.”

Flaherty said the service recognised “the problems we had introducing the Lowland Sleeper were challenging for everyone involved” and he was grateful to all staff for their efforts in rising to meet the challenge.

“We are pleased that in the past weeks the situation has been steadily improving,” he said.

It is understood Caledonian Sleeper guests will be contacted as soon as possible, should their be changes to their sheduled journey.

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie said he had “repeatedly raised concerns about the management of the Caledonian Sleeper franchise” and fully supported the strike action.

He called for the Scottish Government to “strip Serco of the sleeper franchise for its dismal performance and stop doing business with this predatory company”.

“Ministers are due to award the contract for the Northern Isles ferry services in the coming weeks. I’m calling on the transport secretary to rule out giving another important contract to Serco,” Finnie said.

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