Rail workers begin month of industrial action

Workers on the country's most extensive railway network launched a month-long campaign of industrial action today, including refusing to pick up litter from trains.

Staff on Arriva Cross Country, which covers 1,400 miles of railway and more than 100 stations from Aberdeen to Penzance, Bournemouth to Manchester and Stansted to Cardiff, will ban overtime and take other forms of action short of a strike.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said its members were expected to "solidly support" the action, which is being taken in a row over pay and conditions.

General secretary Bob Crow said: "We expect the action to have an immediate impact, especially in terms of being able to keep trains tidy."

The company said the union had been attempting to re-negotiate a two-year pay agreement signed last August.

A spokesman said: "We are prepared to consider demands to raise pay over and above the agreed pay rate implemented in April 2009 if the RMT can agree on changes in working arrangements that will fund the increase.

"The RMT is threatening to impose an overtime ban for a month from August 3 that will affect train managers and catering staff. We do not believe this will have a significant effect on our services and continue to engage in discussion with union representatives to resolve this dispute."

Meanwhile, talks will be held tomorrow in a bid to avert fresh strikes by rail workers on National Express East Anglia.

Members of the RMT and the drivers' union Aslef walked out for 48 hours last week over pay and conditions and are due to stage three further stoppages, including another 48 hours of action from Thursday.