Rail union TSSA has served notice to ballot hundreds of staff for strike action and action short of strike at train operator Avanti West Coast in a dispute over pay, conditions and job security.
This is the first ballot for industrial action launched by TSSA in an escalating dispute across the railway. Notice to ballot was given following the failure of dispute resolution processes.
TSSA has collective bargaining rights for all station and revenue protection staff at Avanti West Coast, and for managers with salaries of less than around £35,000. We also represent other managers at the company.
TSSA is demanding a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies for 2022, no unagreed changes to terms and conditions, and a pay increase which reflects the rising cost of living.
Ballot papers are set to be dispatched on 15 June with the ballot closing on 29 June. The result is expected the same day. In the event of a yes vote, strike action could take place as early as 13 July. Members are being asked to cast two votes: one on strike action, another on action short of strike. TSSA is balloting 300 members.
TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Avanti West Coast needs to come to the table to face the concerns of their staff and tell their paymasters in government that widespread rail disruption is on the cards.
“Avanti West Coast staff are asking for some basic fair treatment: not to be sacked from their jobs; a fair pay rise in the face of a cost-of-living-crisis; and no race to the bottom on terms and conditions.
“We could be seeing a Summer of discontent across our railways. Make no mistake, we are preparing for all options, including coordinated strike action. And if our members go out on strike in Avanti, the trains will stop running.
“With data showing that retail sales are falling as the Tories cost of living crisis bites, unless wages start keeping pace with inflation, a Sunak-made recession looms large.”
Avanti operates passenger train services and stations including from London Euston to Birmingham, Crewe, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
Notes to editors:
Avanti West Coast is owned by FirstGroup (70%) and Trenitalia (30%).
TSSA members in Avanti West Coast carry out managerial and station staffing roles as well as Control room roles. In the event of Control staff going on strike, trains will be unable to run.
FirstGroup CEO Matthew Gregory’s total remuneration in 2021 was reported as being £840,000, up from £788,000 in 2020 (see p119 of First Group - Annual Report 2021)