Services to LNER, Siemens and Hitachi shut down after Wabtec’s actions ‘disgrace Doncaster’s proud rail history'

Members of the Unite and RMT unions employed by rail maintenance firm Wabtec at the historic Flying Scotsman site in Doncaster will move to all out strike action over ‘abhorrent’ fire and rehire plans.

Over 200 workers, who maintain and repair rail stock, including carriages, wheels and bogies, have already taken nine days of strike action during June and early July. 

They will move to all out strike on 19 July, which will bring the site to a complete close.

The strike will shut down services for Wabtec clients including LNER, Siemens, Hitachi, GB Railfreight and Freightliner, with potential knock-on impacts on the availability of both passenger and freight rail stock.   

US-owned Wabtec is seeking to fire and rehire the workers onto new contracts that will see breaks cut and staff having to work extra hours, including at the end of their shift, for no extra pay. 

The company is offering workers that sign the contracts a two-year below inflation pay rise.

Staff are being pressurised into signing the new contracts in one-to-one meetings with management. The unions are advising workers that they do not have to sign and can fight this attempt to force changes to their terms and conditions.

Wabtec’s total sales for 2021 were £6.43 billion, bringing in a record cash flow from operations of £880 million and it made dividend payments of £76 million.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Wabtec’s abhorrent fire and rehire plans seek to make Doncaster’s workers worse off, working longer for less, for a company that has billions in the bank.

“Our members have no alternative but to shut this site down completely until the company steps back from these appalling and needless plans, which are a disgrace to Doncaster’s proud rail history."

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Wabtec has behaved dreadfully from start to finish and now wants to fire staff and rehire them on inferior wages and conditions.

“This is totally unacceptable to RMT members who will now take all out strike action to reverse Wabtec’s despicable and arrogant behaviour. 

“Wabtec bosses are bringing shame to Doncaster which has a proud history of manufacturing, with predecessors building the Flying Scotsman and Mallard locomotives.”

ENDS

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.