Train operator slams ‘completely unneccessary’ strike as Northamptonshire passengers set to be affected

East Midlands Trains
East Midlands Trains

The train operator serving Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough has pledged to continue running as many services as possible during what it has condemned as “inconsiderate strike action” called by the Unite union.

Industrial action will take place by train maintenance staff belonging to the union from 6am on Sunday, September 28, to 5.59am on Saturday, October 4.

East Midlands Trains, which says two separate sets of strikes will cost employees around £2,000 each in lost wages, has branded the latest action “completely unnecessary”.

The operator says the £2,000 figure is a calculated total from the forthcoming six days of action and four days in July 2014 based on an average of about £200 a day.

More than 80 engineering and maintenance staff are set to walk out.

East Midlands Trains says Unite members were offered a 2.5 per cent pay increase in June, which was increased to an above-inflation offer of 2.75 per cent in July. The same offer was accepted by customer service staff at the end of July, but Unite said the offer was “paltry”.

Eleventh-hour talks will be held on Friday, September 26, in a bid to avoid action being taken.

Clare Burles, from East Midlands Trains, said: “Unite’s planned action is completely unnecessary. It clearly has no thought for the impact on employees’ families of losing thousands of pounds in lost wages, particularly a few months before the run up to Christmas.

“The union action is particularly irresponsible after the very fair pay offers we have made and which other staff have been happy to accept. We have been flexible in putting forward further reasonable offers, but they have all been rejected by the union. More strike action will only reduce the amount of money available to fund a pay increase and hit the people whose interests the union is supposed to put first.

“We urge the union to think carefully about its position and understand that it needs to start considering a compromise to put an end to this illogical strike action.

“East Midlands Trains is an integral part of the wider East Midlands economy and community and we are also determined to keep running services to minimise the disruption for local people who rely on our trains to get to work and get around the country.”

Kevin Hepworth, Unite regional officer, said: “Our members have a right to have their legitimate grievances recognised and we hope that the company will come to the table ready to agree a fair pay deal for its loyal workforce.

“Unite will enter Friday’s talks with the aim of settling this long-running dispute in the best interests of our members. Many working people can relate to feeling undervalued at work, these members have collectively agreed to take a stand and their union fully supports them.

“Strike action is never taken lightly. We welcome Friday’s talks with management and will work hard to secure a fair and equitable pay deal for our members.”

A revised timetable will operate during the strikes, with details available on the operator’s website from Thursday, September 25.

**Following a request for clarification from East Midlands Trains, this story has been amended to make clear that the figure of £2,000 lost wages is based on two separate sets of strike action.