A union representing Sussex railway station ticket office staff will hold talks with Southern bosses over proposed cuts to opening hours.
Govia Thameslink Railway unveiled proposals earlier this year to introduce ‘station hosts’ selling tickets on the concourses, limiting ticket office opening hours to weekday peak times only at most of its stations in the county.
Station staff represented by the RMT union are already planning to strike on Wednesday September 7, while the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association are currently balloting its members on industrial action.
The RMT strike coincides with a separate 48-hour walkout planned to start at the same time over GTR’s plans to change the role of conductors on Southern services to on-board supervisors, with drivers operating train doors instead.
The TSSA is attending talks with GTR, hosted by conciliation service ACAS today (Wednesday August 31) in an attempt to head off the cuts.
The results of the TSSA’s strike ballot will be announced on Friday (September 2).
Yesterday Lorraine Ward, TSSA’s organising director, said: “Govia Thameslink’s management of Southern is running the service into the ground.
“It is clear to passengers and staff alike that to serve the public effectively and ensure a safe running of the service, Southern should not reduce current staffing levels.
“This is the largest and busiest franchise in the UK rail network and, up to now, the measures Govia are proposing will simply slash passenger and staff safety standards on this dangerously over-strained service.
“All unions have been resolute in standing firm in the face of this plan and we are now optimistic that Govia will be showing willing to abandon it at tomorrow’s talks.”
Responding to the RMT’s decision to strike over proposed cuts to ticket office opening times late last week, GTR explained that after talks with both unions it had decided to take the original proposals off the table.
Instead the rail operator would be conducting a six months pilot at eight stations using volunteer staff to test the new station host role.
Alex Foulds, GTR’s passenger services director, said: “These pilots would be manned by volunteers on a secondment basis and would allow concerns around personal safety and cash handling to be addressed. Staff would keep their jobs, get more money and many would work fewer hours.
“To call a strike over proposals that no longer exist is a stunning own goal by the RMT leadership.”
Under the original proposals ticket offices at Lancing and Falmer were due to close completely.
Stations at Angmering, Barnham, Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Burgess Hill, Chichester, Crawley, East Grinstead, Eastbourne, Hassocks, Horley, Horsham, Hove, Lewes, Littlehampton, Polegate, Portslade, Shoreham, and Worthing were also due to be affected by the cuts.
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