Brighton and Hove train passengers face the prospect of fresh industrial action after station staff voted in favour of going on strike.
The RMT rail union announced the result of a ballot today (Tuesday 16 August), with 70 per cent of those taking part favouring strike action.
The ballot – of members working for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – followed proposals to close several ticket offices and reduce the opening hours of others.
The RMT described the plans as a threat to jobs, pay and safety.
The union said: “Nearly 80 per cent voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike. The result will now be considered by the union executive.
“GTR’s proposed reorganisation of station staff would see the creation of the new position of ‘station host’.
“The impact of the Govia proposals cannot be underestimated. GTR want to close ticket offices, or cut them to morning peak only, at 83 stations from as far afield as Kings Lynn and Bognor Regis.
“As a means of doing this they plan to introduce a new multifunctional role of station host which RMT estimates will result in a cut of at least 130 jobs.
“RMT is totally opposed to ticket office closures and cuts in hours as this will have a devastating impact on both staff and the safety and services offered to the travelling public.
“The latest proposals from the company will cut pay and also result in a massive increase in lone working.
“GTR are totally ignoring the thousands of passengers who clearly indicated in our high-profile public campaign that they are appalled by the planned closure of ticket offices and the swingeing cuts to opening hours.
“They have failed to address the views of station staff and have ignored the objections from RMT and our sister rail unions.
“If these changes come in, the union believes it will mean all station staff could be forced on to flexible working with an increased workload without the prospect of reasonable compensation.
“In the wake of a strong mandate for industrial action in this ballot the RMT National Executive Committee is considering the next course of action.”
RMT assistant general secretary Steve Hedley said: “The Govia Thamelink franchise is in meltdown and not fit for purpose.
“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 passengers and staff alike.
“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.”