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UK Politics

Rail workers to strike on Bank holidays

Workers at Northern Rail are to strike on December 27 and 28 in a row over Bank Holiday pay, it was announced today.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said around 1,000 of its members at the company will take industrial action after voting in favour of strikes over a "perfectly reasonable" demand for extra pay for working during the festive public holidays.

The union said that while the company was demanding that the workforce accepted flat rate payments over Christmas, Northern Rail operating profits on normal activities had shot up by 87.5% between 2007 and 2010 to a total for the four years of £85.9 million.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "The spirit of old Scrooge is alive and well on Northern Rail and our conductor members have shown in this ballot that they will not be treated as second-class citizens this Christmas.

"There is no agreement in place on Northern Rail for the additional public holidays on December 27 and 28 that everyone else will be benefiting from this year. You only have to look at the sporting calendar to see that these days are full-on public holidays everywhere other than in the minds of the senior management at Northern Rail.

"No matter how many phoney arguments Northern Rail throw up, they cannot escape the fact that this is a company that has made over £85 million in profits off the backs of their workforce in the past four years.

"The boardroom is awash with cash and it is outrageous that staff are being told to work these additional Christmas public holidays at flat rate while the Northern Rail shareholders are relaxing in front of the telly with the warm feeling that £80 million in dividend payments brings."

Northern Rail said it will run a limited service on some routes during the walkout, adding that it was "very disappointed" that the union had called for strike action.

The company said it will run a revised timetable from around 9am to 6pm on both strike days.

Managing director Ian Bevan said: "We are very disappointed that the RMT is going ahead with strike action when only 361 of 976 conductors voted for a strike.

"We have said all along that we will honour the existing agreements that we have with the trade union, and we are always willing to hold further talks.

"Our priority now is to ensure that our passengers have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their travel plans on 27 and 28 December."

Northern said passengers can find detailed timetable information on http://www.northernrail.org, staffed stations or by contacting Northern's customer relations team on 0845 00 00 125 or National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950.