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Union confirms vote for Southeastern action

RMT has confirmed that members working for Southeastern at the major London rail terminals of Victoria and Charing Cross have voted for action over platform and gateline job cuts that RMT says are a "lethal gamble at a time of heightened terrorist alert."

In a letter to RMT, a senior Network Rail manager at Charing Cross has confirmed deep concerns that the changes to team leader numbers and roles and a lack of training could create serious problems in the event of an emergency evacuation.

The letter says:

“As you are aware yourself team leaders are crucial to the role of co-ordinate with the Shift Station manager [sic] in the event of an evacuation. They can hardly supervise their own staff and liaise with Network Rail if they have no knowledge of their own role and duties.”

Southeastern has just imposed 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 the company policy of cutting staffing and operational costs to maximise profits was exposed.

RMT claims that under the company plans 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 as well as compromising the ability to react to an emergency evacuation.

RMT’s executive is considering strategy in light of the mandate for action. 

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

 “Only days after both Victoria and Charing Cross saw their security status elevated from “substantial” to “severe” we now have the clearest evidence that Southeastern’s cuts to station staff are compromising emergency procedures and that is a disgrace. These cuts should be reversed immediately.

 “Southeastern have got the nerve to jack up fares by 13% while hacking back on platform operations that will compromise safety and security, delay and disrupt the dispatch process and put their staff in the firing line as and when things go wrong.

 “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.”

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