West rail link threat­ened by ‘as­sault’ bal­lot

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - News -

The Rail Mar­itime and Trans­port Union is to bal­lot work­ers on Great Western Rail­way for in­dus­trial ac­tion over the sack­ing of a guard based at Lon­don’s Padding­ton sta­tion – bring­ing the chance of a dam­ag­ing strike closer.

The union an­nounced last week it was threat­en­ing to stop all trains in and out of Padding­ton over the dis­pute – po­ten­tially bring­ing mis­ery to thou­sands of peo­ple from the West­coun­try who use the sta­tion to get into and out of Lon­don. They have now said a bal­lot will be held.

The dis­pute is over the al­leged vic­tim­i­sa­tion of union ac­tivist Ben Fred­er­ick, who was sus­pended af­ter an in­ci­dent at Eve­sham Sta­tion in Worces­ter­shire, where Mr Fred­er­ick al­leges he was at­tacked by a pas­sen­ger.

The union said al­though Mr Fred­er­ick was the vic­tim he was sus­pended. They say CCTV footage shows a mem­ber of the pub­lic spit­ting at him and hit­ting him with a mo­bile phone. He was sus­pended on Septem­ber 5 pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by GWR that he car­ried out the as­sault.

If the strike bal­lot goes ahead and mem­bers votes for in­dus­trial ac­tion it will cre­ate an­other dis­pute on rail­way ser­vices into and out of the West­coun­try. South Western Rail­way staff are al­ready in dis­pute over the re­moval of guards from trains.

Yes­ter­day work­ers on Ar­riva Rail North said they were to stage seven fresh strikes on Satur­days un­til the end of the year in the long-run­ning dis­pute over guards.

Mem­bers of the Rail, Mar­itime and Trans­port (RMT) union will walk out for 24 hours on Novem­ber 17 and 24, and on De­cem­ber 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.

The new ac­tion will take the num­ber of strikes against the com­pany to 43 since the bit­ter row over the role of guards on trains flared.

Strikes had al­ready been an­nounced for the next two Satur­days, lead­ing to huge dis­rup­tion to ser­vices.

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