OVER a million rail passengers face festive disruption with the latest threat of strike action by staff from a major train firm.
• CrossCountry workers to walk out on December 21
• Train workers unhappy over training and staff rostering
• ScotRail workers also taking industrial action over sacking of ticket examiner
Workers on CrossCountry Trains, which operate services from Aberdeen to Penzanze, are to stage a 24-hour strike over a “comprehensive breakdown” in industrial relations.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out on December 21.
Train managers, senior conductors and on-board catering staff will be involved in the action.
CrossCountry services cover routes across Scotland and England and have passenger numbers over 1.1million.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “As a result of the total collapse of industrial relations across a whole raft of matters, we are in dispute with CrossCountry and the union has had no option but to ballot members for action and with a mandate secured we are pushing on with a 24-hour strike.
“We will continue to apply pressure on the company until all of the issues are resolved to our satisfaction.”
The union raised issues including rosters and training.
The RMT has also called two pre-Christmas strikes at ScotRail in a dispute over the sacking of a union member.
CrossCountry’s managing director Andy Cooper said: “We had asked the RMT not to take any action until we had exhausted our discussions. We had already reached agreement with the union over the majority of the concerns they raised and have a further meeting next week, where we are confident that we can resolve the remaining issues.
“It is regrettable that the RMT has made this announcement and caused unnecessary worry for customers while we are still working to resolve the remaining few issues. At this stage we are not advising customers to change any of their travel arrangements on 21 December.”
The move follows similar strike threats by ScotRail staff over the sacking of a ticket examiner.
The RMT said members would walk out for 24 hours between just before midnight on Friday, 21 December and at the same time on Sunday, 23 December.
The RMT union has announced two 24-hour strikes days before Christmas, over the sacking of a ticket examiner.
A number of trains could be cancelled if the planned stoppages go ahead on 22 December, the last Saturday before Christmas, and also Christmas Eve.
The FirstGroup-owned operator is training other staff to work as conductors, without whom many trains cannot run.
ScotRail has described the strike dates as a “clear attack on the travelling public across Scotland at Christmas”.
Union members voted by two to one – 548 to 264 – to back strikes, but ScotRail claimed only one thrid of some 2,200 eligible staff took part.
The ScotRail strike is over the dismissal of Scott Lewis, who was involved in a dispute with a passenger in March over a promotional ticket to Prestwick airport in Ayrshire, which lasted more than 15 minutes.
ScotRail said Mr Lewis reduced the passenger to tears, and anyone who though that was acceptable was “in the wrong job”.
The RMT has insisted on Mr Lewis’ reinstatement, saying he was adhering to ScotRails’s procedures in “assisting the passenger and operating the policy in event of non-payment of a correct fare”.