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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 December 2006, 10:00 GMT
Union plans festive rail strike
Hundreds of railway workers on Central Trains are to stage a series of strikes over Christmas and the New Year.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) said more than 550 conductors will walk out for 24 hours on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

The dispute is over pay arrangements for the festive period and new rosters.

Central Trains, which runs services throughout the Midlands, said the strike would result in "misery" for rail customers in the region.

General secretary Bob Crow accused the company of trying to "ride roughshod" over the workers by introducing a new rostering system without agreement.

Bonus payments

Managing Director Steve Banaghan said the company had offered additional payments for working Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

"This is the third year running that the RMT has planned to inconvenience Central Trains passengers over payments for seasonal shifts," he said.

"We are happy to pay those staff who are needed to work double time - this means that staff would have received more money than last year."

Mr Banaghan said bonus payments amounted to 220 per senior conductor for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

The additional payments have already been accepted by RMT staff working at Central's stations and ticket offices, he said.

Central Trains said it will publish details of how its services will be affected and will "continue to be open to discussions with the union".

The RMT also announced that a planned 48-hour strike from 19 December by signal workers in the West Midlands had been suspended after progress in talks over a row about rosters.

The union said Network Rail had agreed not to impose rosters in the region and to hold further talks.

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