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RMT votes to strike against GTR ticket office closure plans

Members from rail union RMT have voted in favour of strike action over a longstanding dispute with Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) over what it perceives as “a threat to jobs, pay and safety” from the impact of planned ticket office closures.

The union confirmed a 70% vote in favour of strike and an 80% vote in favour of industrial action short of a strike. The result will now be considered by the union executive.

GTR’s plans include closing ticket offices, or restricting them to morning peak only, at 83 stations. The operator’s proposed staff reorganisation would also see the creation of a new “multi-functional” position o ‘station host’, which RMT says will result in a cut of at least 130 jobs.

The union has also argued ticket office closures and cuts in hours will have a “devastating impact” on staff, safety and services offered to commuters. According to its members, the latest GTR proposals will “cut pay and also result in a massive increase in lone working”.

RMT’s assistant general secretary, Steve Hedley, said: “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.

“In light of this strong mandate from our members our National Executive Committee will be considering the course of industrial action.”

The beleaguered operator, which already endured three days of strike action – and potentially more soon – across its Southern branch, refuted the union’s allegations over job losses. It argued that affected staff would receive an uplift in salary or an increased allowance, that there would no compulsory redundancies, and that the operator would safeguard staff safety.

It also criticised RMT’s vote to strike, claiming that the decision was made on a 40% turnout.

An operator spokesman said: “We note that only one in four (26.9%) voted for strike action, with more than half of RMT station staff members ignoring the ballot.

“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.”

Also today, RMT decided to suspend planned strike action over a dispute with Virgin Trains East Coast, which was due to start on 19 August. While the disagreement has not been “completely resolved”, the union said “significant progress has been made with the company”. Union representatives will go back into talks with the operator’s management and will extend the deadline for taking strike action a further 28 days.

(Top image c. Andrew Matthews)


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John Grant   19/08/2016 at 12:57

"rammed-out ... and unreliable services" presumably refers to the disruption on Southern caused by ...

Jerry Alderson   19/08/2016 at 18:07

As I've written on RTM comments before, I hate dealing with someone who is behind a glass window. My bank no longer does so and I don't see why the railway should either. The way Chiltern Railways runs Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village is the future. I think GTR is really poor at customer relations. Moving the person 'chained' to a seat behind a window out to where the passengers are located is good for passengers and makes enormous sense. GTR has promised to staff stations from first to last train - something that does not necessartily happen now.

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