Thameslink passengers to be hit by 24-hour industrial action call

St Albans City Station

St Albans City Station - Credit: Archant

A proposed train strike next week will impact on stations at St Albans and Harpenden - even though they are not directly affected by the issue which has led to the threat of industrial action.

After a ballot of members, The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have confirmed 24-hour strike action by station staff members across Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR), on Wednesday, September 7.

It is over the reorganisation of station staff with Station Hosts being introduced on the concourse to provide assistance and sell tickets at 63 stations on Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern.

But Station Hosts are not being proposed for St Albans City and Harpenden stations although they are being mooted for Radlett Station. Nevertheless the impact of the strike is expected to be felt along the whole of the Thameslink line.

The RMT estimate that the introduction of a new multi-functional role of Station Host will result in the loss of at least 130 jobs. They maintain it is just the first phase of a GTR plan with the role of dispatchers and barrier staff likely to be affected in the future by what they describe as the company’s cost-cutting measures.

The union has warned that ticket office closures and cuts in hours will have “a devastating impact” on both staff and the safety and services offered to the public.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “These cuts 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 as Govia drives on with plans for a ‘faceless railway’ where the public are left to fend for themselves on rammed-out, dangerous and unreliable services.”

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In response Alex Foulds, GTR’s passenger services director, said: “During face-to-face discussions with local union officials from the RMT and TSSA [Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association] last Monday, we took our original proposals off the table, and agreed new proposals with them - a six months pilot at eight stations using volunteer staff to test the new Station Host role.

“It was a very productive meeting and the RMT officials present were content to put the revised pilot proposal forward to the RMT leadership for endorsement. We are therefore perplexed that they have decided to call this strike day in protest at proposals that no longer exist and when a solution had been found. The only conclusion is they are determined to strike even if there is no longer any justification.”

He accused the RMT of ignoring the will of their members with only one in four voting for strike action and said they were, “now attempting to drag station staff out on strike over proposals which we have already withdrawn”.

Striking GTR staff will be called out from 00.01 hours to 23.59 hours, Wednesday September 7.