Thameslink passengers could be caught up in industrial action

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 August 2016

Thameslink train

Thameslink train


Industrial action on the Thameslink line is on the cards after the RMT union decided to ballot members of station staff over proposals to bring them out from behind windows and on to the concourse.

Although the scheme is not proposed for either St Albans City or Harpenden stations, it has been mooted for Radlett.

And should the RMT get support for their industrial action, it could impact on other stations along the route, run by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

The company is planning to modernise the way it operates 83 stations on Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern by renaming staff Station Hosts and putting them on the concourse to provide assistance and help sell tickets.

The stations would be staffed from the first train to the last, seven days a week, and the Station Hosts would continue to sell the full range of tickets available which had been available behind the window.

The RMT has written to GTR announcing its intention to ballot over a thousand of its members for industrial action over the issue. Ballot papers will go out next Tuesday, August 2, and the ballot will close on Tuesday, August 16.

Passenger service director at GTR, Keith Jipps, said: “The RMT’s threat of further industrial action is entirely unwarranted and clearly another bid by the union to disrupt passengers and GTR across as many parts of our franchise as possible.

“We have listened to passengers and modified our proposals, addressing the concerns of both London TravelWatch and Transport Focus.”

He added: “Our new Station Hosts will be paid more, be able to work in safety and provide passengers with better customer service but the RMT is not concerned with improving the experience for passengers and are dismissing significant improvements to the terms and conditions for staff.”

But RMT general secretary Mick Cash commentedc: “These plans fly in the face of the response from the thousands of passengers who objected to the closure of ticket offices and the de-staffing of stations.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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