Strike threat by workers on West Coast Main Line

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Rail union RMT has announced it is moving forward with a ballot of cleaning staff on Virgin West Coast Main Line for industrial action.

It follows proposals to reduce staffing numbers by 15 per cent and leave those remaining facing an “intolerable workload”.

They say the cleaning services have been contracted out by Virgin to Alstom as part of a facilities contract and Alstom have then, in turn, subbed out the cleaning to Voith Industrial Services.

Union bosses say Voith is proposing plans on Virgin West Coast services that would slash 37 whole-time equivalent posts from the staffing establishment – a cut of over 15 per cent in overall staffing numbers. The cuts hit on-board cleaners and those who clean and prepare the trains on turn-around at main rail stations.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is disgusting that the staff who keep Virgin West Coast trains clean are now themselves being treated like dirt and RMT has made it clear from the off that the union will fight these job cuts.

“The company have refused to pull back and as a result the union is now pressing ahead with plans for an industrial action ballot.

“It is about time that Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin outfit stopped passing the buck and started taking some responsibility for the exploitation and abuse of support staff that is now rife on his services.

“Virgin cannot wash its hands of the appalling employment practices, and threats to working lives, that are now rife on its watch. RMT will be calling on passengers, who pay top dollar for the Virgin long-haul routes, to support the staff who slog their guts out in difficult, overcrowded conditions to make the journey as comfortable as possible.”