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Greater Anglia guards vote to strike in row over who shuts train doors

PUBLISHED: 13:13 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:16 12 September 2017

The doors of the new trains coming to Greater Anglia will be controlled from the driver's cab. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

The doors of the new trains coming to Greater Anglia will be controlled from the driver's cab. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA.

Archant

Guards employed by Greater Anglia on some of the trains in the region have voted to strike in a row about who shuts the doors on the new trains being introduced by the company in two years time.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) balloted its conductor/guard members on the issue – and they voted overwhelmingly to support strike action.

The action would only affect InterCity and rural services. Suburban trains are already operated by only the driver.

The company said it has trained other members of staff to take on the role of guards if there are strikes – and is confident there will be no affect on its passengers.

The RMT balloted both drivers and guards members – most drivers belong to the rival Alsef union – and more than 200 Greater Anglia guards, on a 90% turn out, have voted by nine to one for strike action. The drivers’ vote was two to one for action on a 75% turn out.

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 and that left us with no alternative but to move to a ballot in the interests of rail safety.

“Our members have now voted by massive majorities for action and it’s now down to the company to wake up and take note and to seize the opportunity to give us the very simple assurances on the future of the guards, and the guarantee of a second safety critical member of staff on current services.

“The union remains available for further talks around the crucial issue of the guard guarantee.”

The union says it is important for passenger safety that guards operate the doors. Greater Anglia and railway safety bodies say they are satisfied that drivers can safely close the doors – modern trains have the door-closing switches in the driver’s cab.

Richard Dean, Train Service Delivery Director, Greater Anglia said: “We are obviously disappointed with the ballot result. We’re keen to talk to the RMT to try and resolve the issues involved and to avert industrial action.

“We value our conductors highly and we have guaranteed their jobs until the end of our franchise in October 2025. In fact, we will be recruiting additional conductors, as we are replacing all of our trains with brand new trains from 2019, which will enable us to run more services.”

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