RAIL union RMT confirmed yesterday that London Overground guards will take strike action, together with an overtime ban, for 48 hours over the coming Bank Holiday weekend.
Guards voted overwhelmingly for strike action and action short of a strike in a ballot following the announcement by Transport for London (TfL) of their plans to introduce Driver Only Operation (DOO) on the whole of the London Overground network.
The grades balloted have been instructed NOT to book on for any shifts that commence between: 00:01 hours on Sunday 25th August 2013 and 23:59 hours on Monday 26th August 2013.
Furthermore, members have been instructed to take industrial action short of a strike, by refusing to work any overtime and not agreeing to any shift movement between 00:01 hours on Sunday 25th August 2013 and 23:59 hours on Monday 26th August 2013.
The London Overground guards are the first group of staff to face the threat of the sack as a direct result of the government-imposed cuts of 12.5% on TfL. They will, however, not be the last, since there is a billion pounds worth of cuts lined up over the next five years, and there has been confirmation that all ticket offices are to be closed.
The RMT has made it clear that it will widen the balloting franchise across transport services in London and will not allow individual groups of staff to be picked off by Mayor Johnson’s transport officials.
The RMT stressed: ‘To underscore the essential role of the guards, last month there was a major incident near Kentish Town which required the emergency evacuation of over 100 passengers in searing heat between stations.
‘That evacuation was led by the guard and even LOROL admitted in their statement: “The prompt actions of London Overground staff enabled the incident to be brought to a close as quickly as possible.”
‘The company and TfL are now preparing to sack those very same staff whose actions they were praising just a few weeks ago. 130 safety-critical guards jobs are threatened.’
The RMT is warning that the axing of guards across London Overground ‘will also turn London Overground services into a no-go area for those with disabilities and others needing assistance as both trains and stations are de-staffed in the name of the TfL cuts drive’.
As well as balloting for industrial action, RMT will be taking the political fight against this attack on safety critical guards jobs into the House of Commons and City Hall, and will be organising a series of public meetings and protests aimed at building support from the travelling public.