On train catering staff based at Manchester Piccadilly Train Station are taking strike action in protest at management's attempt to impose new rosters.

The catering staff, employed by Virgin West Coast, currently work a 14-hour shift in return for extra days off. Management plan to impose an 8-hour shift pattern, which will not only mean that on board catering staff will lose around 60 free days per year, it will also lead to significant job losses. At Wolverhampton, where the shift patterns were recently brought in, management have begun to recruit part-time staff, as the first step in the casualisation of the on board catering service on the whole of the West Coast Main line.

Predictably Virgin's much cultivated caring and friendly image was soon dropped when it became clear that staff were prepared to take action. Prior to the first 24-hour strike, letters were sent to all staff threatening those who took part in the strike with the sack. After the second day's strike, a further letter was sent to all staff stating that Virgin had used management scabs to break the strike. It also stated that there had been a significant increase in revenue, which would be investigated, the implication being that staff had been thieving.

This management propaganda and intimidation has only strengthened the resolve of the strikers to resist management bullying. The next move should be to try to get the other depots to take similar action and create a united front involving all on-train catering staff employed by Virgin West Coast.

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