Great Northern commuters to be hit by RMT strike over ticket office plans – railway operator brands union ‘shameful’
- Credit: Archant
Rail union RMT has announced a 24-hour strike by station staff on Great Northern and associated lines over the proposed closure of ticket offices and reorganisation of the workforce – with the railway operator calling the action ‘shameful’.
RMT members will not work on Wednesday, September 7, in protest against Govia Thameslink’s plans to close ticket offices at non-peak times and replace them with ‘station hosts’ on the platforms – which the RMT estimates will result in a cut of at least 130 jobs.
The union had already announced a strike by conductors on the Southern Railway, also run by Govia, for September 7 and 8.
Govia has expressed confusion, saying it agreed a revised pilot plan with RMT officials and that the proposals being protested against no longer exist.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The Govia Thamelink franchise is in meltdown and not fit for purpose.
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“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.
“Our members have made it clear that they will not stand by while this basket-case franchise unleashes yet another attack on jobs and services in the drive for profits and that is why we have no option but to take strike action.
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“It is about time Govia Thameslink started acting responsibly, halted their cuts plans and got round the table with the union in serious and genuine talks.”
Govia’s passenger services director Alex Foulds said the railway was ‘perplexed’ by the union’s announcement.
“This is a cynical and deliberate stunt by the RMT to try and bring our trains to a standstill by co-ordinating strike action on two fronts on the same day to cause maximum disruption, delay and damage to our passengers’ everyday lives and the economy,” he said.
“The RMT leadership is playing politics with innocent people who are simply seeking to go about their business with employers, family and friends.
“It is a shameful and pitiful act and shows everyone their true colours and motivation, come what may and whoever they hurt.
“During face-to-face discussions with local union officials from the RMT and TSSA last Monday, we took our original proposals off the table, and agreed new proposals with them – a six months pilot at eight stations using volunteer staff to test the new station host role.
“It was a very productive meeting and the RMT officials present were content to put the revised pilot proposal forward to the RMT leadership for endorsement.
“We are therefore perplexed that they have decided to call this strike day in protest at proposals that no longer exist and when a solution had been found. The only conclusion is they are determined to strike even if there is no longer any justification.
“The station staff who voted in this ballot may now be asking, like us, why there is no mention of the revised pilot proposals in their statement.
“These pilots would be manned by volunteers on a secondment basis and would allow concerns around personal safety and cash handling to be addressed. Staff would keep their jobs, get more money and many would work fewer hours.”