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TSSA leadership ‘needs to tell the truth’

Press Release   •   Jan 10, 2010 23:00 GMT

Tony Collins, Virgin Trains’ chief executive, today demanded that the TSSA union leadership ‘get honest’ about the reasons behind its strike call.

Following a 24-hour strike call supported by only a small minority of members, the TSSA rail union has today called three short strikes at Virgin Trains’ ticket offices in its dispute over payments for using improved ticket office machines.

The first strike on Monday January 4 had no impact on Virgin Trains’ customers, as only 70 people out of 3,000 Virgin Trains’ employees joined the strike.

Mr Collins said today: “We will maintain a full service, as we did last Monday, and ensure that customers are able to buy tickets and do not have their journeys disrupted by this action.”

And he added: “The TSSA leadership has consistently tried to mislead and confuse its members and public about the reason for the strike.

"The key reason for a strike is that the TSSA wants increased pay for use of machines that offer a better quality of service to customers."

Mr Collins added: “The TSSA leadership continues to peddle misinformation in its desperate attempt to justify its actions, which are not in the interests of either its members or the travelling public. It is time for the TSSA to get honest about the true reasons for its action, which is about extra payments.”

The TSSA has tried to disguise this by making a string of false or misleading claims to try to win public support, including suggesting:

1. Virgin Trains is cutting ticket office jobs by 10 per cent
There are no plans to reduce the number of ticket office jobs, and in fact Virgin Trains is recruiting to fill vacancies to help serve the increasing number of customers

2. Virgin Trains is planning to close ticket offices
Virgin Trains is certainly not closing any ticket offices. We are using the same number of staff and will continue to use all ticket offices.

3. Virgin Trains ticket office staff are experiencing increasing levels of assault
There are no indications of increasing levels of assault and Virgin Trains would take immediate action if there were any evidence of an increase.

The dates on which the TSSA has called short strikes among some ticket office staff are:
Friday 15 January, 16:00 - 19:00
Monday 25 January, 05:00 - 08:30
Friday 5 February, 16:00 - 19:00

Virgin Trains has contingency plans to ensure customers are able to buy tickets throughout these periods.

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

Total growth in passenger numbers is 15 percent; growth at weekends is 36 percent. Growth based on figures for Virgin Trains periods 1001-1009 compared to 0901-0909 (i.e. 1 March 2009 to 14 November 2009 compared to 2 March 2008 to 8 November 2008).

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