Rail workers set for strike ballot
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.”