Rail work­ers set for strike bal­lot

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion -

RAIL­WAY work­ers are to be bal­loted over strike action.

The move at South­east­ern cen­tres on job losses and work­ing con­di­tions.

Mem­bers of the RMT union will vote on in­dus­trial action, which threat­ens wide­spread dis­rup­tion to train ser­vices into Lon­don from Kent and Sus­sex.

As­sis­tant gen­eral sec­re­tary of RMT Pa­trick Siko­rski said: “This is a fresh dis­pute, which in­cludes the is­sue of 350 po­si­tions man­age­ment are strip­ping out.

“We are against the im­po­si­tion of job de­scrip­tions for on-board man­agers who will be put on the high-speed trains in­stead of prop­erly trained guard con­duc­tors.

“We also op­pose the im­po­si­tion of a job de­scrip­tion for dis­patch staff work­ing on the plat­forms who will work on the dis­patch of high-speed trains.”

The bal­lot will open on March 16 and close two weeks later.

Unions say a par­tic­u­lar con­cern is putting the safety of pas­sen­gers at risk.

Mr Siko­rski added: “Man­age­ment refuse to ac­cept guards should be in con­trol of on-board safety and in con­trol of the open­ing and clos­ing of doors.

“This train will be run­ning through the long­est se­ries of con­sec­u­tive tun­nels prob­a­bly in Europe and we can­not tol­er­ate sit­u­a­tions where we do not have prop­erly trained peo­ple on those trains which will be car­ry­ing more pas­sen­gers than the Eurostar.”

“How­ever, the big­gest is­sue is the re­dun­dancy is­sue.

“How can they jus­tify cut­ting this num­ber of staff when the com­pany is gen­er­at­ing a very good flow of prof­its and is sup­port­ing the pay­outs to the share­hold­ers?

“Th­ese cuts are just to make sure the div­i­dend and share­hold­ers get their cut.”

South­east­ern spokesman Sarah Boundy said: “It’s re­ally dis­ap­point­ing news from the RMT.

“If the strike goes ahead it will be bad news for pas­sen­gers, em­ploy­ers and the econ­omy. We have never com­pro­mised on safety.

“We will lose about 300 posts, but this will in­clude re­dun­dancy and nat­u­ral turnover, such as not fill­ing va­can­cies when em­ploy­ees re­tire or leave.

“Any strike action the RMT calls is likely to have the op­po­site ef­fect and could po­ten­tially put more jobs at risk.”

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