Powerful demo to stop ticket office closures

RMT members outside Kings Cross Station yesterday morning demanding no cuts to ticket offices

A POWERFUL demonstration against mass railway ticket office hours cuts and total closures was held outside London’s Kings Cross Station early yesterday morning, with delegations of transport union RMT members attending from as far afield as Birmingham and Newcastle.

Kathy Mazur, RMT Organiser London and Anglia, told News Line: ‘There are proposals to reduce the opening hours of ticket offices from London to Edinburgh and going into Yorkshire and north-east England too.

‘Where they cut opening hours they depend on passengers using automatic machines instead of frontline staff. The machines are variable in reliability and often difficult to use, especially on cash transactions, but also for the elderly and people with disabilities.

‘As well as job cuts this leads to a less inclusive and accessible service, it is unpopular – passengers hate it and we hate it.

‘The RMT has made it clear that if they continue on this four-pronged attack on wages, pensions, terms & conditions and jobs – then we’ll be heading for significant industrial action across the whole network.’

Raja Amin, Birmingham Rail RMT Branch Secretary and President RMT Midland Region, representing 17 branches and 10,000 members, said: ‘Older people are often oblivious to modern technology and need a personal touch, also when tourists come they often can’t cope with the machines and need personal help.

‘If it comes to it we will have no choice but to enter into a dispute. Ticket offices must be saved for all.’

RMT member Mohammed Farooq said: ‘Working people need these services and we completely support whatever action the union decides to save them.’

RMT Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley said: ‘We are faced with ticket office closures, job cuts, attacks on pensions, wage freezes and the destruction of terms and conditions.

‘In the New Year the RMT plan is to ballot all train operating companies and Network Rail for industrial action to counter them and we are confident of an overwhelming YES vote!’

Sajid Hussain, Solihul RMT Branch Secretary, said: ‘I represent 700-800 taxi driver RMT members. We’ve got a very strong union and we support our railway colleagues.

‘The private companies should be thrown out of the railways and all public services. I’m in favour of a general strike to defend all jobs and services. We need a workers government.’

Martin McCleary, RMT Newcastle, said: ‘The closure of ticket offices is the thin end of the wedge, the start of a mass cuts agenda they’ve got lined up for our industry.

‘We need to take collective action or they’ll pick us off one by one. We need to all come out together, we need a general strike. We’ve been calling for one for years. It’s not just us on the railways, everyone is fed up with privatisation and its consequences.’