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Train and track workers to vote on whether to take strike action.

WORKERS on Virgin's East Coast rail line will start voting this week on whether to go on strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said inferior conditions were being imposed on staff as well as changes to working conditions and sick pay. The ballot comes days after it was announced that the East Coast rail franchise will end three years early, in 2020, at a potential huge cost to taxpayers.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that a new East Coast Partnership will take on responsibility for both intercity trains and track operations on the route in 2020.

Virgin Trains East Coast, a partnership between Stagecoach and Sir Richard Branson's Virgin, had agreed to pay the Government PS3.3 billion to run the service until 2023, but there was concern that the firms were considering pulling out of the deal for financial reasons, which is what National Express did in 2009.

The route was run by the Department for Transport for six years up to 2015. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "We will not stand by while Virgin East Coast attempt to impose a two-tier workforce with different terms and conditions for our members. Virgin East Coast are also seeking to unilaterally enforce changes to working and conditions, including sick pay arrangements, which would have a major impact on our members' working lives.

"The pay offer was put to our members and they rejected it by a large majority. Instead of negotiating, the company has sought to impose the offer. Therefore RMT is now beginning the ballot

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 6, 2017
Words:265
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