Workers at South Western Railway have voted to strike following a dispute over the future use of guards on the service.
Over 80 per cent of those who voted in trade union RMT’s ballot opted for industrial action after the union claimed that franchise holder First MTR had not given “cast-iron assurances” over the future of guards on their trains.
No dates for strike action have so far been announced.
RMT is currently in a similar dispute with Southern Rail, which has seen thousands of passengers affected as train services have been cancelled.
The argument with South Western Railway, says RMT, is that they haven’t been given a “water-tight pledge” regarding guards’ services.
Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, said: “RMT has given repeated opportunities for First MTR to give us the assurances we have sought over the future role of the guards on their trains throughout the length of the new South Western franchise.
“They have refused to give us those guarantees and it is that failure which left RMT with no option but to declare a formal dispute with the company and to conduct a ballot for action.
“Our members have now voted overwhelmingly for both strike action and action short of a strike and that massive mandate will now be considered by RMT’s executive who will decide the next steps.
“This dispute can be easily resolved if the company is prepared to stick to existing agreements and give staff and passengers alike a guarantee of a second, safety-critical member of staff on all current services.”
RMT has said it remains available for talks with First MTR, who say a meeting has already been arranged for Thursday.
A statement from South Western Railway said: “We are disappointed that some of our staff have chosen to vote for industrial action.
“We have been clear that we plan to retain a second person on our services, as we know that our passengers value the assurance and assistance a second member of on-board staff provides.
“None of us want to be in this position and any potential action will cause unnecessary disruption for the customers we serve.”