Commuters face fresh Southern misery as union ballots members on new strikes

Mark Sands
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Will commuters be trying to win over the unions ahead of a fresh round of strikes? (Source: Getty)

Southern Rail travellers face fresh commute misery in September after a rail union announced plans to ballot staff over a potential strike.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association will poll 150 station staff members over Southern railway plans to close ticket offices and cut staffing numbers.

34 offices are set to close, while 49 will only open during peak hours, while a total of 47 jobs are to be axed.

But the union says that plans to move staff out of ticket offices are ill-planned, leaving newly appointed “station hosts” handling large amounts of cash while also being responsible for operating gate lines.

TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "We have tried to negotiate on these ideas but [Southern owner Govia Thameslink Railway] just seem to be making it up as they go along," he added.

Read More: Southern is going to cut 341 trains a day

Any strike action will take place next month, following a two week ballot beginning on 10 August.

The news comes just days before rail union RMT begins a week of industrial action on the same lines.

Guards will not work any shifts between 12:01AM on Monday 8 August and 11:59PM on Friday 12 August.

Read More: The unions must cancel their self-indulgent Southern Rail strike

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the government to hand Transport for London control of the troubled rail franchise in a bid to help resolve the widespread disruption for commuters, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will today reiterate his commitment to renationalisation of the railways.

Speaking in Milton Keynes later today, Corbyn will say: “A Labour government will take back the franchises that expire – and any that collapse – and put them into public ownership.

“And for those that aren’t due to expire anytime soon … we will seeks to change the law so that failure to meet key performance targets will allow government to take back the franchise.”

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