Around 1,250 members of the RMT transport union at Southeastern Trains are set to strike for 48 hours on Monday and Tuesday of next week in two separate industrial disputes.
Almost 500 guards and drivers voted by a two to one majority for strike action after the company signalled it wants to extend driver-only operation and do away with guards on its new 395 Hitachi “Javelin” trains.
Some 750 retail and engineering staff at the company voted for action after the bosses made a 4.3 percent below-inflation pay offer. They threatened to reduce it to 4.1 percent if workers rejected it.
The strikes will hit rail services to and from south east London, Sussex and Kent.
Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, said, “Southeastern’s plan is about cutting costs and maximising profits, but it amounts to an attack on safety standards and our members have made it clear that it is unacceptable.
“The company is attempting use the new Javelin trains as a Trojan horse to scrap guards across its franchise, and it is unbelievable that they are attempting to do it on 12-car trains carrying up to 1,000 people through tunnels longer in total than the Channel tunnel.
“The company wants to replace guards with a new non-safety critical post without the training in on-board safety and train protection, route knowledge and licence that guards must have, and passengers should be as angry about that as our members are.”
Total Govia group, which owns Southeastern Trains, increased its operating profits by 16.8 percent to £64.5 million in the six months to the end of December 2007.