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RMT to ballot Southern drivers and LU station staff

The industrial dispute on the troubled Southern franchise looks set to get worse as RMT confirmed it is balloting drivers on the line, as well as announcing a separate ballot of staff on the London Underground.

The Southern ballot, which runs from 4 to 18 November, will ask drivers whether to carry out strikes and other industrial action to try to stop plans to introduce driver-only operated (DOO) services.

It is thought that only 12 Southern drivers are members of RMT, but Aslef, which represents the other drivers, has already announced its own ballot.

Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, said: “Drivers on Southern Rail will find themselves dangerously exposed if the company decide to plough ahead with their ill-conceived and dangerous plans for a wholesale extension of DOO on their routes.

“Drivers will be placed in an impossible position trying to monitor despatch from overcrowded platforms while they should be concentrating on the job of driving the train. The consequences for safety at the critical platform/train Interface are horrendous.

“The union will be calling for a massive YES vote as we step up the pressure on GTR/Southern to abandon their high-risk plans.”

RMT is leading Southern guard strikes in November and December as part of an ongoing industrial dispute.

A spokesperson for Southern said: “This ballot is unnecessary. Our proposals to transfer the full operation of the train to the driver to allow the on board supervisor to concentrate on customer service are totally safe, and a proven method of operation.”

Separately, RMT announced it would ballot London Underground station workers, saying that a safety incident last Thursday when North Greenwich was closed after an improvised bomb was found showed the dangers of staff cuts.

Cash said the terror alert had “confirmed the urgency of the current situation and the nonsense of axing station staff”.

A recent leaked TfL report said that an incident where a passenger’s foot was trapped between the train and platform at Canning Town was made worse because of a lack of staff in the control room.

The ballot will involve nearly 3,500 workers and run from 1 to 15 November.

Mark Wild, London Underground’s managing director, said: “The safety of customers and staff is our top priority and our hardworking people ensure that London Underground remains one of the safest metros in the world. There are more staff available to customers in public areas of stations than ever before and crime is at its lowest ever level.  An independent review‎ of the closure of ticket offices is being conducted by London TravelWatch to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality customer service."

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Kevinr   26/10/2016 at 14:27

Unions. said it before & I'll say it again - the shackles of British industry. Britain will never "run on rail" until we are rid of the parasites that dote on Cash's propaganda.

Daveg   26/10/2016 at 21:41

Quite right, how dare transparent democratic organisations exercise their democratic right to withdraw their labour. Bring back workhouses and zero hours contracts for all. That'll teach them!

Kevinr   27/10/2016 at 08:26

Daveg - It's the reason for withdraw that is the issue. False reasons being given by Cash. Look at the history of these disputes - many resolved by an increase in wage &/or job for life promise. If so principled how come ££££ change peoples minds & return to work? Do we have a (mass) car production industry? No. Unions did for that. Nissan et al brought in their own ways of working as new entities in OK production, thus bypassing unionized productivity levels the likes Rover endured. Bombardier recent win was political - everyone knows its cheaper to produce outside UK (labour rates in Eastern Europe or production methods in Japan/China). Their sword will soon fall. We need to face up to globalized marketplace where the cost to produce or to serve is benchmarked wider than these shores. Cash/RMT rightly try to get the best deal for their members, but they do not chose their battles but battle on every change; stifling improvements the railway industry needs to make. Impact to fare payers goes wider than simply overcrowding - thus impacting all areas of business, leisure & commerce. It needs to stop for the benefit of the country.

James Palma   27/10/2016 at 19:40

I shall be voting to strike. It is disgusting what is going on. I have not been paid enough money this year, so when me and my colleagues strike, we will get offered another bonus and hopefully a pay rise!! That will good. Yes, i am being facetious.

PETER   28/10/2016 at 21:10

Front line staff should be present at all staffed stations during train operating hours. I was involved in a nasty incident at Rugby last Friday, due to no front line staff available. It happened at 10.45pm. I got off the bus from DIRFT at its terminating point opposite Rugby station. I was immediately chased by a gang of youths. I ran for the safety of the station. They caught up with me:- Kicked me in the back through the ticket barriers. They then retreated, I proceeded to get help & Police from Customer services on platform 2. The youths came back & battered me on the platform 2 access ramp. I am off sick from my job as a warehouse order picker due to my injuries, even though office work or driving would still have been ok. I am losing earnings.

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