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RMT begins balloting for action on Southeastern trains

RMT has begun balloting staff on Southeastern trains for strike action and action short of a strike over plans to cut jobs and reduce the role of team leaders at Charing Cross and Victoria stations.

Southeastern is about to impose some of the largest fare increases, up to 13%, on its passengers and in the recent cold snap suffered some of the worst disruption as, claims RMT  "the company policy of cutting staffing and operational costs to maximise profits was exposed."

RMT says that under the latest plan for Victoria and Charing Cross the team leaders posts will be cut and those remaining will be taken away from dispatching trains to cover other duties, leading to more occasions where there will not be enough staff to dispatch trains safely and on time – creating confusion and chaos for passengers. The cuts in numbers will also leave gateline staff vulnerable to abuse and assaults as they are left increasingly isolated

RMT will begin balloting gateline, train dispatch and helpdesk members for strike action and action short of a strike today and the ballot closes on 4th January 2011.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“Just over a week after their services collapsed into total chaos in the cold snap, Southeastern have been caught out yet again cutting staffing and operational costs to maximise profits in a move that will not only cause chaos on the platforms at Victoria and Charing Cross but which would also compromise safety.

“Southeastern have got the nerve to jack up fares by 13% while hacking back on platform operations that will delay and disrupt the dispatch process while putting their staff in the firing line as and when things go wrong. RMT will not accept such penny-pinching behaviour and we are campaigning for a massive yes vote for action in this ballot.

“Southeastern have made profits of £57 million and paid out £44m in shareholder dividends in the past three years and it is clear from these latest cuts and fare increases that even that isn’t enough for them. They are dragging this franchise back to the dark days of Connex – a company who were booted out for exactly this kind of slash and burn approach.

“Southeastern bosses have said that it is “challenging” running services in cold weather. It appears to us that their only “challenge” is how far they can cut back on staff and operations to maximise the multi-million pound profits that they bleed out this franchise.”

 

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