You can read 9 more articles this month
STRIKES threatening to halt Scotland’s iconic sleeper trains could be avoided thanks to a significant breakthrough in negotiations, the Morning Star can exclusively reveal today.
Guards and stewards on the Caledonian Sleeper, which is run by outsourcing giant Serco, have overwhelmingly voted to strike over a myriad of workload concerns.
Rail union RMT said workers have suffered stress and mental ill health since the start of the troubled introduction of shiny new mark V carriages.
Now RMT general secretary Mick Cash has written to members working on the route, which runs six nights a week between London and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William.
Mr Cash’s circular, a copy of which has been seen by the Star, said the situation “had clearly reached breaking point” — but that subsequent negotiations had been productive.
Bosses have now agreed to fill all vacancies and recruit a batch of temporary staff to ease workload concerns.
Under the deal:
•• Eight sleeper hosts will be recruited on short-term part-time contracts, with the ability to work up to full-time if required.
•• These will be based at Euston, Glasgow and Edinburgh but made available for the Highlander service if necessary.
•• Meanwhile eight of the existing sleeper host workforce will be temporarily made up to deputy team leaders, with a pay rise for the duration of the role.
•• All non-leadership grades will be given a one-off payment of £350 before Christmas “in recognition of the mark V introduction period.”
The operator will also recruit four presentation supervisors to check train standards prior to trains going into service, further depot technical staff at Lowlander terminals and “outstation support” for the introduction of the new carriages on the Highlander routes.
Though the roles are temporary, RMT reps are taking part in an “operational excellence” review with management, with new full-time staff brought in if the review says they are needed.
“It’s no coincidence that the Serco Caledonian Sleeper only started to properly address our concerns after you had voted so overwhelmingly in favour of action,” Mr Cash said. “This is what strong industrial trade unionism is all about.”
RMT has agreed to accept the offer as a “temporary agreement” for the service but the union will remain in dispute “until a permanent agreement is in place and all vacancies are filled.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.