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Southern Rail could face further strike action over threat of ticket office closures

PUBLISHED: 11:03 27 July 2016 | UPDATED: 11:03 27 July 2016

A watchdog has called for a review of the Southern franchise

A watchdog has called for a review of the Southern franchise

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Rail union RMT is balloting staff across Govia Thameslink Railways

Railway commuters could face further problems using Southern Railway after a union is threatening staff strikes over ticket office closures.

The rail workers’ union RMT has started balloting station staff across Govia Thameslink Railways for industrial action.

The vote comes as the union warns of a “threat to jobs, pay and safety from the impact of ticket office closures and the reorganisation of the workforce.”

Plans have been announced by GTR, which runs Southern Railway, Thameslink and two other rail firms, to ‘modernise’ stations 83 stations.

Talks are reportedly still ongoing, though the plans will bring staff out from the ticket office and onto the concourse, where they will help sell tickets and provide advice.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The basket-case Govia Thamelink franchise are at it again. Not content with axing catering services, closing ticket offices and attacking the role of their guards they now want to threaten 130 station jobs and compromise the safety of both their passengers and staff alike.

“These plans fly in the face of the response from the thousands of passengers who objected to the closure of ticket offices and the de-staffing of stations as Govia drives on with plans for a “faceless railway” where the public are left to fend for themselves on rammed-out, dangerous and unreliable services.

“The union remains available for serious and meaningful talks but we will not sit back while Britain’s worst rail franchise moves to the next act in its on-going production “Carry On Carnage.” The company chiefs, and their cheerleaders in Government, need to start listening to what their workforce are saying and they need to start respecting the views of those at the sharp-end.”

On their website, GTR claim their will be “no compulsory redundancies.”

Passenger service director, Keith Jipps said: “The RMT’s threat of further industrial action is entirely unwarranted and clearly another bid by the union to disrupt passengers and GTR across as many parts of our franchise as possible.

“We have listened to passengers and modified our proposals, addressing the concerns of both London TravelWatch and Transport Focus.

“Our new Station Hosts will be paid more, be able to work in safety and provide passengers with better customer service, but the RMT is not concerned with improving the experience for passengers and are dismissing significant improvements to the terms and conditions for staff.”

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