15 June 2015
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT’s ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike of all First Great Western members over the threat to jobs and safety from the introduction of the new Hitachi Inter-City trains is well underway with voting papers dispatched to members at the end of last week. The balloting process is now in full swing.
At the end of May the union confirmed that it had entered into dispute with First Great Western over the introduction of Super Express Trains on their franchise. We made it clear that RMT were seeking the following assurances from management to resolve this matter:-
• To keep a safety competent Guard on every train.
• To keep safety critical station Despatch staff.
• To keep buffet car facilities on every train.
• To ensure that the maintenance of new rolling stock remains in-house.
• No job losses.
These issues have been raised with the company by union representatives on numerous occasions, however no satisfactory solutions have been proposed by management to resolve this situation. Therefore, RMT’s executive has now instructed the conduct of a ballot of all First Great Western members for strike action and industrial action short of a strike over this matter.
Accordingly, ballot papers were despatched to members’ home addresses on Friday 12th June 2015 and the ballot will close on Tuesday 30th June 2015. RMT has informed FGW that the union remains available for talks and still hopes that management will see sense and take the necessary steps to resolve this dispute.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT has made every effort to secure a series of very basic assurances from FGW over jobs, services and safety as a result of the introduction of the new Hitachi fleet and they have simply ignored thus. We therefore have no option but to ballot all staff for action to force the company to take this issue seriously.
“It is frankly ludicrous that East Coast, who are introducing the same trains, have given us the assurances we are seeking but FGW have ignored us and are crashing ahead with the ripping out of buffet cars and the threat to safety-critical station and train staff purely to maximise the profits from new trains bought for them by the British taxpayer.
“RMT will be mobilising a public campaign to expose this shabby and profiteering treatment of both passengers and staff alike by a company that already has one of the worst reputations in the industry for milking the rotten rail privatisation racket for every penny they can. RMT remains available for talks.”