RMT threatens ‘full industrial force of the union’ amid ticket office closure rumours

Mick Lynch said his union won't 'meekly sit by'

Mick Lynch speaking at a rally

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has warned ministers and train companies that his union will ‘vigorously oppose’ ticket office closures after rumours they could be shut imminently.

It follows the news that rail operators are drawing up plans to shut most ticket offices in England as early as next week, an issue unions and campaigners have been vigorously opposing for years.

The union for railway workers will not ‘meekly sit by’ whilst the cuts are made, Lynch commented, warning of the threat to jobs and heightened risks for vulnerable and disabled passengers.

The Association of British Commuters campaign group reported that operators had been preparing for mass ticket office closures since early June and warned the Transport Secretary Mark Harper that he will have ‘a massive fight on his hands’ if he goes ahead with the plans.

It is estimated that almost 1,000 offices would be affected by the cuts which are a government attempt to cut costs in the railway service.

In his full statement, Mick Lynch said: “The train operating companies and the government must understand that we will vigorously oppose any moves to close ticket offices.

“We will not meekly sit by and allow thousands of jobs to be sacrificed or see disabled and vulnerable passengers left unable to use the railways as a result.

“RMT will bring into effect the full industrial force of the union to stop any plans to close ticket offices, including on our upcoming strike days of July 20, 22 and 29 in the national rail dispute.”

Following rumours of the closures, members of the public have taken to social media to express why properly staffed stations are important to them.

One Twitter user wrote: “My dad worked in a ticket office most of his life. He did everything, including on several occasions dealing with potential suicides & the aftermath of actual suicides. He cleaned trains when they were short staffed, provided information, physical assistance, and security.”

Whilst more passengers are now using ticket machines, with 12 per cent currently using ticket offices, campaigners stress how they remain vital for women’s safety and those who are vulnerable, including elderly and disabled travellers.

In response to the news, the NFBUK charity, who give a voice to blind and visually impaired people, asked: “Are we really going to allow ticket offices to be shut down? Are the concerns & voices of disabled passengers going to be ignored? Are we really going to allow a 2 tier train system in UK where those that can travel unaided get to travel & those that cannot do not?”

Equality organisations delivered a petition to the Prime Minster in February calling to keep train staff in ticket offices and on train platforms.

The news will only work to exacerbate the ongoing industrial dispute between RMT and rail companies, as the RMT announced more strike dates by rail workers on 20, 22 and 29 July.

Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward

(Photo credit: Steve Eason – Creative Commons)

Left Foot Forward’s trade union reporting is supported by the Barry Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust

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