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London Midland cancels trains owing to lack of Sunday staff

 Not enough staff volunteer to work after pay is cut

 09 September 2009

 

Bosses at rail company London Midland are to meet with unions after a shortage of drivers led to the cancellation of most its services yesterday.

London Midland relies on drivers to volunteer for working on a Sunday, with a long-standing agreement under which drivers were paid double for their time. But this agreement ended last weekend, with staff now offered pay of time and two-thirds, resulting in not enough drivers volunteering to work. The firm was therefore able to only run services on one route, from Birmingham to Liverpool, with the rest of the network of 149 stations left deserted.

A London Midland statement said: “For the majority of London Midland staff, working on Sundays is voluntary. This weekend a large number of onboard staff have failed to volunteer, resulting in a shortfall in staff and the cancellation of services… We apologise for the disruption to our services this Sunday and we are doing everything we can to provide alternative arrangements for passengers. All our services will be running again from Monday 7 September.”

The firm described the situation as “unprecedented” and said it was not the only rail company to operate voluntary working on Sundays. However, it will now meet with the union to thrash out a long-term solution.

The RMT union said that staff were not taking organised action but merely exercising their contractual right not to work on a Sunday. Bob Crow, the RMT’s general secretary, said: “Many of our members will be working as rostered, and if the company has staffing problems it should sit down with us as a matter of urgency to resolve them.”

Staff who have joined London Midland since 2001 have contracts requiring them to work on Sundays when needed, but Sunday working remains voluntary for those whose employment predates this.

It is estimated that around 45,000 passengers suffered disruption to their journeys as a result of the cancellations.

From CIPD’s People Management magazine.