Already reeling from upheaval on Southern Rail, commuters may enter the next circle of hell as RMT is to ballot staff across Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR).
The union says it is to ballot station staff for industrial action over the threat to jobs, pay and safety from the impact of ticket office closures and the reorganisation of the workforce.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The basket-case Govia Thamelink franchise are at it again. Not content with axing catering services, closing ticket offices and attacking the role of their guards they now want to threaten 130 station jobs and compromise the safety of both their passengers and staff alike.
“The union remains available for serious and meaningful talks but we will not sit back while Britain’s worst rail franchise moves to the next act in its on-going production “Carry On Carnage.” The company chiefs, and their cheerleaders in Government, need to start listening to what their workforce are saying and they need to start respecting the views of those at the sharp-end.”
RMT says the new position of “Station Host” and reorganisation of station staff will lead to ticket office closures and cuts, meaning a negative impact on staff and safety and services offered to the travelling public.
The union said: “GTR want to close ticket offices, or cut them to morning peak only, at 83 stations from as far afield as Kings Lynn and Bognor Regis. As a means of doing this they plan to introduce a new multi-functional role of Station Host which RMT estimates will result in a cut of at least 130 jobs.”
However, GTR have repeatedly said that during the talks over the past eight months they have guaranteed no jobs will be lost, all staff will receive either a significant pay rise or a good additional allowance and passengers will get staff on the concourse - instead of behind a ticket office window - for more hours a day than the ticket offices are currently open.
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.
“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.”
The news come as trouble on Southern continues, recently pushing mayor of London Sadiq Khan to state Transport for London should take immediate control of the services' lines.