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16 August 2013, 15:50
Rail guards on London Overground are to stage a 48-hour strike over the August Bank Holiday weekend in a row over jobs.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union will walk out from midnight on Sunday morning August 25 through to Bank Holiday Monday - covering the weekend of the Notting Hill Carnival, after backing action by nine to one in a ballot.
The union is in dispute with the company over the plans to introduce driver only operation on the London Overground network.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow told Heart: "RMT have sent out a clear message over the appalling, cash-driven assault on our guard members and the absolutely essential role that they play.
These are the very same staff who have been praised for safely evacuating passengers from emergency situations and who are the eyes and ears of the service at a time of growing violence and thefts on our trains. The failure of the Transport for London (TfL) senior management, under Mayor Boris Johnson's leadership, and the company to pull back from these proposals has forced RMT to announce this strike action.
The fight to defend 130 safety-critical guards' jobs on London Overground will be centre stage in RMT's overall battle to defend jobs and safety on London's transport services.
We can expect many more of these attacks on jobs and safety as TfL slash hundreds of millions from their budget at Government behest.
Peter Austin, Managing Director for London Overground Rail Operations Limited, which operates Overground trains on behalf of TfL, said: "We are disappointed by the result of the ballot, but would highlight that fewer than half of our 124 conductors voted, and only 43% of those voted in favour of industrial action.
We believe industrial action is unnecessary. LOROL continues to give the RMT assurances on employing conductors in alternative customer service roles and offering a generous voluntary redundancy package to those who want it.
We urge the RMT to work with us to maintain progress in safeguarding jobs and avoid disruption to passengers.
If industrial action goes ahead on Sunday August 25th and Monday August 26th we believe we ill still be able to run a regular service on the majority of the London Overground network with alternative arrangements for the routes affected. We will update our customers when we have more information."
Director of TfL London Overground, Mike Stubbs added: "Strike action is a wholly unnecessary step that will cause disruption to passengers who rely on this service. LOROL is committed to working to find a solution for those of its employees affected by this proposed change. I urge that common sense and discussions prevail – not a needless impact on train services."