Rail workers to stage fresh wave off industrial action
Rail workers in Peterboorugh involved in one of the bitter disputes raging over the role of guards are to stage a fresh wave of industrial action.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Greater Anglia - which operates trains through the city station - are already set to strike on October 3 and 5 but will now ban overtime and rest day working from October 10 to November 6.
The union said the extra industrial action was a result of the “continuing refusal” of Greater Anglia to reach a negotiated settlement.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is the wholesale failure of Greater Anglia to address our members’ concerns over safety that has left us with no option but to escalate our programme of industrial action.
“Greater Anglia have been given every opportunity to give a guarantee on the future role of the guard on their services.
“This dispute is about guaranteeing the safety of the travelling public. Our members voted by massive majorities for both strike action and action short of a strike but the company have ignored that and have failed 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.
“That failure leaves us no option but to move to strike action.”
RMT members on Southern, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North will also strike on October 3 and 5 in similar disputes over the role of guards and driver-only trains.
Greater Anglia said it was planning to run a full service during next week’s strikes.
There are conductors on 40% of Greater Anglia trains - the rest of the service has not had conductors for more than 20 years.
Services without conductors include commuter trains into London Liverpool Street from Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Ipswich, and the Stansted Express.
The company said it has made contingency arrangements to run all trains as normal if the strikes go ahead.
Greater Anglia train service delivery director Richard Dean said: “We are open for talks with the RMT in the hope that we can avert the strike.
“However, we know our customers don’t want to see their services cancelled, so we have spent several months training back office staff so that they can fill in for conductors.
“The majority of our services are not affected by the proposed strike anyway, but we are now prepared for the 40% of services that have conductors.
“Our back office staff have gone through a rigorous training process, and have to pass competence, medical and safety tests before they can stand in for conductors.
“We will also have extra managers at stations to help customers with any inquiries.”
Greater Anglia said it was guaranteeing that conductors will keep their jobs for the length of the franchise to October 2025 and will be recruiting more when the company gets new trains from 2019.