Train guards in Britain have voted, with a massive majority in favour of strike action over changes to their role.
13,000 guards, members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) backed a call for a 24-hour strike by 84.1% to 15.9%. The union says changes to the industry's rule book, brought in at the start of the month, dilute the safety role of guards. The changes have been made by the Train Operating Companies who the union claims want guards to "clip tickets and sell sandwiches".
The rule book changes put train drivers in charge of trains rather than the guard. Primary responsibility for the safety of a train, in the event of a breakdown or an accident will be taken away from the guard and given to the driver.
Guards from the two companies whose trains were involved in the Paddington disaster on 5 October both voted heavily in favour of the action.
Jimmy Knapp, leader of the RMT said that he was very surprised that the changes were to go ahead following the accident at Paddington last week.
The union's assistant general secretary, Bob Crow said the changes would mean that guards were to become "ticket collectors and KitKat sellers" instead of properly trained railway workers.
The industrial action is set for 29 October and will affect 18 of the 25 TOCs. The companies not affected arIsland Line on the Isle of Wight, Great Eastern and Connex South East where guards voted against taking industrial action. Thameslink and West Anglia Great Northern were not involved in the dispute. The results of ballots of guards from ScotRail and Midland Mainline, have yet to be announced. They are expected to be announced nest week.
- Web sources