THE argument over train staffing has spread east, after the RMT announced votes in favour of strikes or action short of a strike over fears that Greater Anglia could be set to abolish conductors.
GA says it is ‘disappointed’ about the ballot result, and has called upon the RMT to start talks.
Train service delivery director at Greater Anglia is Richard Dean. He said: “We’re keen to talk to the RMT to try and resolve the issues involved and to avert industrial action.
“We value our conductors highly and we have guaranteed their jobs until the end of our franchise in October 2025. In fact, we will be recruiting additional conductors, as we are replacing all our trains from 2019, which will enable us to run more services.”
However, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Greater Anglia have been given every opportunity to give a guarantee on the future role of the guard on their services. They have failed to do so and that left us with no alternative but to move to a ballot in the interests of rail safety.
"Our members have now voted by massive majorities for action and it's now down to the company to wake up and take note and to seize the opportunity to give us the very simple assurances on the future of the guards, and the guarantee of a second safety critical member of staff on current services.”
The union said it had balloted drivers and more than 200 GA conductors. The turnout was 90 per cent among conductors, and action was approved by nine to one. Three out of four drivers voted, and two thirds of them also called for industrial action.
Disputes are continuing over train staffing on Govia Thameslink Railway, Merseyrail and Northern, where more walkouts were staged at the start of this month.
The RMT has also launched a public petition calling for conductors to be retained on Northern services. The operator said it was ‘in the early stages of developing our modernisation plans’.