Station staff across the Govia Thameslink Railways (GTR) franchise, including Southern Rail, have voted in favour of a strike, the RMT has announced this afternoon (16 August). The union said 70% of its station staff members who took part in the ballot backed a walkout, while 80% voted in favour of industrial action.

The RMT's national executive will now consider the result. The union claims GTR is threatening jobs, pay and safety with the reorganisation of its ticket offices.

"The GTR franchise is in meltdown and not fit for purpose," said Steve Hedley, the assistant general secretary of the RMT.

"Not content with axing catering services, closing ticket offices and attacking the role of their guards they now want to threaten 130 station jobs and compromise the safety of both their and staff alike," he added.

"These plans fly in the face of the response from the thousands of passengers who objected to the closure of ticket offices and the de-staffing of stations as Govia drives on with plans for a 'faceless railway', where the public are left to fend for themselves on rammed-out, dangerous and unreliable services.

"In light of this strong mandate from our members our National Executive Committee will be considering the course of industrial action."

A spokesperson for GTR said: "We note that only one in four (26.9%) voted for strike action, with more than half of RMT station staff members ignoring the ballot.

"While disappointed we urge the union to stop this dispute and save our passengers and staff further pain by becoming part of the solution rather than the problem."

Southern guard dispute

The news comes after talks between the RMT and Southern rail bosses failed. The parties had attempted to resolve the dispute over the changing role of guards on the network, with Southern wanting drivers to close doors in conjunction with CCTV.

But the talks at mitigation service Acas failed to produce an agreement. GTR vowed to plough ahead with its modernisation programme.

Angie Doll, passenger services director at GTR, said: "We will now move forward with our modernisation plans, which will deliver better customer service for our passengers. Our eight-point proposal is still on the table and we urge the RMT to give this serious consideration.

"Over the coming weeks, we will be working closely with our staff as we start to implement these vital changes. After so much unnecessary industrial action, we must all get back to the job of giving our passengers the service they expect and deserve.