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Strike ballot as 350 jobs are axed

PUBLISHED: 14:52 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:32 23 August 2010

NEARLY 1,400 members of rail workers are to be balloted for strike action over issues including job cuts, safe working of new trains and working conditions. Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Southeastern Trains will be urged to vo

NEARLY 1,400 members of rail workers are to be balloted for strike action over issues including job cuts, safe working of new trains and working conditions.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at Southeastern Trains will be urged to vote for strike action in a ballot due to open on Monday.

Union members at Southeastern, which runs services in north Kent, are furious about the Govia franchise's plans to slash 350 jobs and claim it is failing to guarantee redundancy payments.

Paul Cox, RMT spokesperson for north Kent, said: "We were actually hoping we wouldn't have to take strike action, but it is a last resort - we can't get a proper response from Southeastern.

"We need to know where job cuts are going to be made and whether they are going to get compulsory redundancies."

RMT members also claim Govia wants on-board train managers on the new Javelin trains to have the same safety role as existing conductors.

Mr Cox said: "They are going to be running a skeleton service and that is very worrying for passengers, especially female ones. It won't be safe."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow added: "It should be unthinkable to downgrade the safety role of guards on trains that will carry more passengers than Eurostar through tunnels longer in total than the Channel tunnel, but that is what Southeastern wants to do, and it must be stopped.

"We hope that passengers will understand that in defending our members' jobs, safety and conditions we are also protecting the services they provide to the public."

A spokesperson for Southeastern said: "This is disappointing news from the RMT which we feel is totally unnecessary. And of course it will be bad news for our passengers, employees and the economy if a strike goes ahead.

"In line with many other companies in the UK at the moment, this step is being taken in order for us to remain a successful organisation and to protect jobs for the majority of our employees.

"Any strike action is likely to have the opposite effect of what they are trying to do and could put further jobs at risk.

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