Virgin rail workers are to go on a 24-hour strike later in the first of a number of walkouts across the UK. Rail, Maritime and Transport union and Transport Salaried Staffs Association members on Virgin Trains West Coast will strike over pay and staffing. Virgin said it had offered a “significantly above inflation pay rise”, but unions rejected it. Most Virgin West Coast services will still run, but Chester and north Wales will not be served for most of the day.A replacement bus service will be laid on between Chester and Crewe, and Arriva Trains Wales will accept tickets between Chester and north Wales stations.There will also be no trains to Edinburgh.Passengers have been warned to check their travel arrangements before heading to the station and to expect the services that are running to be busier than normal. Further strikes are planned on Virgin West Coast services on 22 December and throughout January. RMT members are also staging action on Merseyrail, Greater Anglia, South Western Railway and CrossCountry rail in the coming weeks.Why are the unions striking?Both the RMT and the TSSA said the dispute is over drivers being offered higher pay rises than other staff on the network. Manuel Cortes, general secretary of TSSA, said: “We’re obviously happy for the drivers that they have had a decent settlement, but our members believe that they too should deserve a little more than a stand still inflation pay rise.”RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “We have made it clear to the company that the inequality and underhanded approach of Virgin will be fought tooth and nail.”What does Virgin say?Phil Whittingham, managing director for Virgin Trains on the West Coast, said the company had spoken to the unions about a 3.6% pay rise – but they want 4%. He claims that is double the 2% national average seen across the UK this year.”We remain open to talks with the RMT and TSSA, and urge them to call off these strikes which will cost their members pay for no gain,” he said.
Source: BBC Cumbria