Guards on Greater Anglia will be balloted for strike action after talks with the train operator stalled, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced today.
The union confirmed the dispute, saying a ballot will be issued next Monday 21 August for walkouts and action short of a strike, over the potential extension of so-called driver only operation. It said the train firm had failed to give a guarantee on the role of the guard throughout the length of the franchise.
The RMT is pressing ahead with the ballot after a meeting with Greater Anglia failed to secure a resolution. The strike ballot will close on Tuesday 12 September.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
Greater Anglia have been given every opportunity to give a guarantee on the future role of the guard on their services. They have failed to do so.
RMT will not sit back and wait for the company any longer and we have no option but to proceed to ballot in order to protect safety and access on Greater Anglia services.
The union remains available for further talks around the crucial issue of the guard guarantee.
A Greater Anglia spokesperson said:
We have seen the RMT's announcement of their intention to ballot for industrial action. We have no intention to remove conductors from our trains.
They are highly valued colleagues and they will continue to play an important role on our trains. Clearly we hope that industrial action can be avoided but we will do our utmost to protect our customers from any disruption it could cause. We are seeking further talks with the RMT to try and agree a way forward.
Greater Anglia's network carries millions of passengers a year, and spans areas across the east and southeast of England, including the capital, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Last month, the union called for fresh talks with a raft of train firms over the extension of driver only operation, with the RMT saying it fears the development will be unsafe.