Posted 13th September 2017 | 3 Comments

Conductor disputes spread again

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’.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Lee, Manchester

    If driver control only is so unsafe, then the RMT should produce irrefutable evidence to substantiate the claim and make it available to scrutiny. If the RMT's evidence is so compelling then retain conductors, if it isn't then the RMT should work with the rail industry instead of against it to make trains safer. The current approach of 'give us what we want or we go on strjke, this is a non-negotiable offer' is getting the RMT, the railways and ultimately the customers (remember us, the ones who actually fund the railway industry?) nowhere.

  • Philip Russell , Carlisle

    If Scotrail and GWR hadn't backed down because of strike action from their original DCO proposals then I'm sure by now the RMT would be anegotiating sensibly , however weak management for short term peace has only encouraged these hardline unions to escalate their campaign still further.

  • Andrew B, Stockport

    Quite clear the RMT will not be happy until they are having this dispute in every single rail franchise.

    It doesn't seem to matter what anyone says, what promises or proposals are made. They just strike anyway. It's like they want to sign their own death warrant because there will become a point when the public just get completely fed up with all this and start recognising this for what it is: malicious trouble making by a bunch of dinosaurs.