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Last Updated: Monday, 25 December 2006, 05:41 GMT
Strike action hits rail services
Central Trains
Industrial action is also planned over the New Year period
Thousands of train passengers have had to find alternative ways of travelling across central England due to a 24-hour strike on Christmas Eve.

The action, which was taken by conductors on Central Trains, meant all services were cancelled.

But the company said it hoped to provide a reduced service on two other days of industrial action - New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The RMT union said the dispute was over holiday pay and working arrangements.

About 400 trains were cancelled as 580 senior conductors went on strike, Central Trains said.

You just can't go along as an employer and impose rosters
Bob Crow,
RMT general secretary

Two thousand trains will be affected over the three days of planned strikes. The areas most affected have been the East and West Midlands, although a number of Central Trains' services also run from Manchester to Norwich and Cleethorpes to Cardiff.

Earlier in the week, talks to try to stop the industrial action broke down when the RMT rejected an increased pay offer.

The company said it could not offer any more than the 236 it had already put forward to work on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve.

Conductors said they were striking over the "imposition of centralised rostering and Christmas and New Year pay arrangements".

Managers 'staffing service'

Central Trains' spokeswoman Rachel Webster said the company had tried hard to stave off industrial action.

"On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day we are looking at how many services we may be able to run," she said.

"It depends on how many senior conductors want to work. We've had indications that some have been asking if they can come to work.

"Predominantly managers, who were conductors, will be staffing the service."

She added that details of the service on those two days would be published on 27 or 28 December.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow has apologised to passengers for the disruption caused, but said the action was being taken not just because of Christmas payments but over the implementation of rosters.

"The reality is that the money's not satisfactory to our members, and you just can't go along as an employer and impose rosters," he said.

Midland Mainline has operated a normal Sunday service on Christmas Eve after staff accepted a pay offer and called off planned strikes on the same three days.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Trade union leader explains the reason for the train strike



SEE ALSO
Festive train strikes announced
20 Dec 06 |  Nottinghamshire

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