Stoke-on-Trent rail commuters back train strikes over Christmas period

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Commuters in Stoke-on-Trent have backed a series of 24-hour strikes by Virgin West Coast through December and January.

Rail Union RMT, which represents managers and catering staff at Virgin West Coast, announced six 24-hour strikes as part of an ongoing pay dispute.

It could impact thousands of rail users on the line which connects Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford between Manchester, Crewe and London Euston.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members on Virgin West Coast are striking for workplace equality and workplace justice.

“All our members are demanding is a suitable and equal offer to that given to drivers to buy out their claim for a reduction in the base working week.

“We have made it clear to the company that the inequality and under-handed approach of Virgin will be fought tooth and nail.

“The message needs to get through to Sir Richard Branson on his luxury island retreat in the sunshine that those who are financing his lifestyle through their hard graft have had enough and are prepared to fight for justice in their workplaces.”

But commuters today backed the action, saying workers have a right to fight for fair pay.

Listen to commuters, below:

Virgin Trains insist they will run the ‘majority’ of services during the strike action.

Phil Whittingham, managing director for Virgin Trains on the West Coast, said: “The RMT leadership is attempting to cause disruption when many will want to travel by train to spend time with loved ones.

“We have explored a generous 3.6% pay increase, however the trade union’s leadership is insisting on 4%, double the two percent average increase seen across the UK this year.

“We know how important it is for friends and families to get together over the festive season, so we will keep the majority of our trains running with fully-trained staff onboard and at stations.”

The strikes will run from midnight to midnight on the following dates;
•Friday 15th December 2017
•Friday 22nd December 2017
•Friday 5th January 2018
•Monday 8th January 2018
•Friday 26th January 2018
•Monday 29th January 2018

(Additional reporting by Ellie Stringer)

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