by Max Clarke
Commuters can prepare for more travel disruptions after the self avowed "communist/ socialist" leader of the RMT Union Bob Crow is preparing to ballot staff of Southeastern rail for strike action over plans to cut jobs and reduce the role of team leaders at Charing Cross and Victoria stations.
With three 24 hour tube strikes causing chaos for commuters in just the past few months, and more 2-3 day strikes announced for january 2011, the news is unlikely to be well received.
RMT cites the reason for industrial action being Southeastern Trains' decision to impose fare increases of up to 13%, while cutting numbers of 'team leaders' at Charring Cross and Victoria. Remaining staff would then be taken away from dispatching trains to cover other duties, which, RMT Media alleges, will lead to more occasions where there will not be enough staff to dispatch trains safely and on time.
RMT will be balloting gateline, train dispatch and helpdesk members for strike action and action short of a strike. The ballot opens on 14th December and closes on 4th January 2011.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“Just days after their services collapsed into total chaos in the cold snap, Southeastern have been caught out yet again cutting staffing and operational costs to maximise profits in a move that will not only cause chaos on the platforms at Victoria and Charing Cross but which would also compromise safety.
“Southeastern have got the nerve to jack up fares by 13% while hacking back on platform operations that will delay and disrupt the dispatch process while putting their staff in the firing line as and when things go wrong. RMT will not accept such penny-pinching behaviour and we will be campaigning for a massive yes vote for action in this ballot.