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Railway workers threaten walkout

PUBLISHED: 17:07 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:06 23 August 2010

CONTROVERSY: Workers are angry that the new high speed Hitachi Javelin trains will have no guards.

CONTROVERSY: Workers are angry that the new high speed Hitachi Javelin trains will have no guards.

MORE than 1,000 rail workers are set to strike for 48 hours in a double-pronged dispute over proposed pay rises and job cuts. Guards, drivers, retail and engineering staff in the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) are planning the action from midni

MORE than 1,000 rail workers are set to strike for 48 hours in a double-pronged dispute over proposed pay rises and job cuts.

Guards, drivers, retail and engineering staff in the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) are planning the action from midnight on Monday to midnight the following day.

Members voted on Wednesday September 10 with a two-for-one majority in favour of the industrial action.

The strike is over Southeastern Train's decision to scrap the role of guards on the high speed Hitachi Javelin trains which will offer 140mph services linking Ebbsfleet and Ashford Stations to St Pancras in London and the Channel Tunnel and a proposed 4.3 per cent pay rise which the union say is 'unacceptable'.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Southeastern's plan to extend driver-only operation and remove guards on trains carrying up to 1,000 passengers should ring alarm bells among passengers as well as rail staff.

"The company wants to replace guards with a new non-safety critical post without the training in on-board safety and train protection, route-knowledge and licence that guards must have, and passengers should be as angry about that as our members are."

Southeastern says that while 45 conductor's jobs will be axed 90 new on-board manager positions will be created with the introduction of high-speed train services in December next year but the RMT are unconvinced by the measure.

The union also claims that the 4.3 per cent pay rise is below inflation and effectively amounts to a pay cut but Southeastern are refusing to budge.

A spokesperson for Southeastern said: "We're extremely disappointed with the results of ballots over a 4.3 per cent pay increase for engineering and station staff, and the role of onboard high speed train staff.

"We feel it's unfair that the RMT is threatening to disrupt train services when we are offering a decent pay award and, overall, increasing the number of onboard train staff.

"If a strike does go ahead it will cause unnecessary inconvenience for our passengers.

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