Rail workers to strike at Christmas

Photo: Angela Sharpe

Photo: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant � 2009

Greater Anglia staff are to stage a Christmas strike in their long-running dispute with bosses.

Guards will walk out for a day of action on December 27 after the two-day Christmas rail network shutdown.

But the company expects there will be little effect on passengers – it has clearance from the Office of Rail and Road to use alternative staff to carry out conductor/guards' duties and plans to run a scheduled service on that day.

The row centres on plans to introduce driver-operated doors.

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: 'We are obviously disappointed with the announcement today. We are hoping to resolve this dispute through discussions with RMT union officials. Prior to today's announcement, we had arranged talks with the RMT for tomorrow. We will be going ahead with those talks as planned.

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'There is already a revised Christmas service in place on Wednesday 27 December. We will be aiming to run that revised service, but will confirm full details nearer the time. Customers are advised to check before they travel using the Greater Anglia website or app.

'We value our conductors highly. We have guaranteed their jobs until the end of the 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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Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: 'This hardline union has been offered long term guarantees of employment for its members, but they just seem to be spoiling for a fight.

'The union leadership has a clear political agenda looking back to the 1970s not forward to the future. It is a great shame that they are happy to disrupt Norwich passengers once again, either those who are trying to see family across the country at Christmas, or those dedicated people who need to get to work in the days between Christmas and New Year.'

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the new strike had been called after talks broke down: 'It's the continuing failure of the train companies and their political puppet masters in Government to make any attempt whatsoever to resolve these disputes over rail safety that has led us to call action today.

'There is chaos and confusion in the rail industry surrounding the Government's position which makes it almost impossible to negotiate and I have written to Chris Grayling to express my concern at this lack of clarity and contradictory messages but also to offer further talks not least on the vital issue of accessibility.'

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