Rail staff vote 70 per cent for strikes over ticket office closures

RMT members back industrial action over Govia Thameslink's shake-up

Southern Rail

 

Rail staff have voted for strikes over plans to close ticket offices at 83 stations, with unions warning the plans would cut pay and risk passenger safety.

RMT union members voted by 70 per cent for strike, while 80 per cent voted for industrial action short of a strike, leaving the union’s executive committee to decide on next steps.

RMT said the rail firm plans to cut back on staff at stations, closing ticket offices and creating a new ‘station host’ role.

It warned this would mean less hours for staff, and so less income, while safety and security would be at risk.

It comes after talks between Govia Thamelink Railways (GTR) and RMT over plans to remove guards from Southern trains broke down this week.

Steve Hedley, assistant general secretary of RMT, said:

‘The Govia Thamelink franchise is in meltdown and not fit for purpose. Not content with axing catering services, closing ticket offices and attacking the role of their guards they now want to threaten 130 station jobs and compromise the safety of both their passengers and staff alike.

These plans fly in the face of the response from the thousands of passengers who objected to the closure of ticket offices and the de-staffing of stations as Govia drives on with plans for a ‘faceless railway’ where the public are left to fend for themselves on rammed-out, dangerous and unreliable services.’

He added that passengers oppose ticket office closures and having less staff at stations.

A Govia Thameslink spokesman, responding to the ballot result, said:

‘While disappointed we urge the union to stop this dispute and save our passengers and staff further pain by becoming part of the solution rather than the problem.’

A demonstration was held today on London Bridge organised by rail unions’ ‘Action for Rail’ campaign, upon news rail fares were set to rise by two per cent.

Organised by the TUC, TSSA, RMT, ASLEF and Unite, it was attended by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The protest called for renationalising the railways.

See: Rail fares grow twice as fast as wages since 2010, says TUC

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