3 July 2015
RMT Press Office
RAIL UNION RMT’s ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike of station and guard’s grades’ members over the threat to jobs and safety and the creation of a two-tier workforce:
Strike action – 80% yes vote
Action short of a strike – 90% yes vote
The issues behind the dispute relate to the removal of permanent posts and the creation of zero hour jobs via the contract with security company STM, cuts to booking offices and attacks on the role and responsibility of train guards.
The key issues are:
• Reneged on agreement. Northern Rail reneged on a previous agreement not to increase STM staff levels during the current franchise. In the last 18 months jobs on the inferior STM contract have increased from 150 to 500, jeopardising Northern Rail jobs. RMT asked Northern Rail for current figures on the STM contract but the company chose to decline to give us this information, hiding behind the cloak of commercial sensitivity.
• Zero hour contracts. STM employees have the right to work on decent pay and conditions. They currently find themselves part of a two tier workforce on zero hour contracts.
• Compulsory Redundancies. Northern Rail have given NO commitment to no compulsory redundancies beyond the end of the current franchise in February 2016.
• Eroding Safety. Northern Rail have a long term vision that actively erodes the safety critical responsibilities of the guard with aspirations of introducing a new grade of ticket examiners on reduced pay and conditions.
• Exploiting Loopholes. Northern Rail continue to exploit loop holes in the law that allows for sub-contracted labour to occupy permanent minuted railway posts indefinitely. This exploitation is now imposed on the East and West of the franchise.
• Attacking the role and responsibility of the guard. Bidders for the new franchise must be committed to the removal of guards from 50% of services before 2020.
• Reductions to opening hours at booking offices across the network. The Department for Transport is supposed to enforce a minimum legal standard of opening hours for Booking Offices known as ‘Schedule 17’. In spite of this Northern Rail, embarked on a series of reductions to overall opening hours at booking offices across the network.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“RMT has made every effort to win assurances from Northern Rail over jobs, services and safety. However, the company continues to ride roughshod over our efforts.
“We therefore had no option but to ballot all staff for action to force the company to take these issues seriously and the members have now voted decisively for action. That mandate will now be considered by the union.
“The union is committed to ending the two-tier workforce that the STM contract creates and calls for all workers to be brought in-house on decent pay and conditions.
“We are also committed to keeping ticket offices opening and defending guard’s jobs, which are safety-critical.
“The union will continue to build its campaign to expose the sharp practices that Northern Rail is using simply to increase profit at the expense of its workforce. RMT remains available for talks and we expect the company to now take this dispute, and the issues at the heart of it, seriously.”
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