Christmas travel is always a nightmare, especially by train. Train travel is bad enough at the best of times, but when you take into account all the people travelling up and down the country (and the OTT heating inside) things get more than a bit uncomfortable. Well it looks like it'll be even worse for some, because Virgin West's train staff are due to strike on 22nd December.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has announced that Virgin West staff plan to strike six times during December and January, with one of those walk-outs taking place on Friday 22nd December - aka that day most people finish work for the festive period and might start travelling elsewhere.
Other strike days that are inconvenient, but perhaps less of a problem, include 15th December, plus 5th, 8th, 26th, and 29th January.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash, said:
"Our members on Virgin West Coast are striking for workplace equality and workplace justice. The message needs to get through to Sir Richard Branson on his luxury island retreat in the sunshine that those who are financing his lifestyle through their hard graft have had enough and are prepared to fight for justice in their workplaces."
Meanwhile Virgin Trains had this to say:
"The RMT leadership is attempting to cause disruption when many will want to travel by train to spend time with loved ones. We have explored a generous 3.6% pay increase, however the trade union's leadership is insisting on 4%, double the 2% average increase seen across the UK this year.
We know how important it is for friends and families to get together over the festive season, so we will keep the majority of our trains running with fully-trained staff on board and at stations. We remain open to continuing talks with the RMT."
That last point is important, with Virgin announcing that it won't be letting strike action affect travellers' travel plans.
The best way to get attention is to cause as much disruption as possible, to make the employers take the strike threat more seriously, but at the same time you manage to piss off large parts of the population in the process.
Sky News has pointed out that Christmas is (as usual) coinciding with engineering works and reduced services. That's pretty typical, but it's not exactly helpful when the reduced services also coincide with one of the year's biggest travel periods. [Sky News]