RAIL UNION RMT today confirmed that a ballot for national industrial action involving rail maintenance workers across the country will begin next Thursday – 25th February.
The ballot for action is over the threat of redundancies as part of a national drive to axe up to 1500 safety-critical maintenance jobs, a failure to follow existing redeployment procedures, a threat to use external contractors to carry out existing in-house maintenance work and a failure to communicate planned changes as part of the on-going Network Rail maintenance re-organisation. The ballot will be run in parallel with a vote for action by sister rail union TSSA.
RMT have repeatedly warned that the rail maintenance jobs massacre will threaten the safety of passengers and staff and have compiled a dossier on the impact of current unfilled vacancies – the latest example being a prohibition notice on works in South Wales due to a shortage of key workers.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“We are balloting for a national strike because we know that the threat to axe jobs and compromise safety standards makes another Hatfield, Potters Bar or Grayrigg disaster on the UK rail network inevitable.
“We have warned Network Rail repeatedly that if they don’t lift the threat to jobs and rail safety that we will have no choice but to take action. They have ignored those warnings and so the ballot will begin next week.
“I have no doubt that the British people will understand that you cannot take reckless gambles with rail safety in the name of “efficiency” and to hit financial targets on the bottom of a balance sheet.
“We are calling for an overwhelming yes vote in this ballot but remain committed to talks with Network Rail aimed at reaching a settlement to this dispute that puts the safety and security of passengers and staff right back to the top of the agenda.”