Ballot launched for walkout in dispute about railway staff

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A ballot of rail staff launches today about possible strike action over use of subcontractors by the company providing most local trains in South Yorkshire.

The RMT union is asking its members whether to hold a walkout over the use of some agency workers and subcontractors by Northern Rail.

The union is worried agency staff are replacing permanent workers to save the company money.

Northern said it subcontracts some ticket-checking activities to two organisations, one of which has been undertaking duties for 13 years. The other was introduced on a trial basis in 2012 with a commitment to review progress with the RMT in May this year.

Adrian Thompson of Northern Rail said: “The RMT has demanded Northern either sacks or employs the 260 people on these contracts.

“The RMT is claiming Northern is gradually replacing employees with ‘agency staff’ - a claim that is completely unfounded and untrue. We do not want to put these people out of work. These contractors carry out a vital role.”

The RMT ballot closes on Monday, May 20. If there is a vote for strike the earliest possible date would be May 27.