Train passengers across South Yorkshire could face travel chaos after almost two-thirds of Northern Rail staff voted in favour of strike action.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union balloted more than 2,000 members at Northern Rail in a dispute over the ‘casualtisation’ of the workforce through the use of agency staff, as well as pay and working conditions.
The RMT confirmed that 58 per cent of their members have voted in favour of industrial action.
The union, which has accused Northern Rail management of trying to interfere with the balloting process through ‘a campaign of lies and dirty tricks’, said it will now consider the result.
Should strike action be confirmed, passengers on trains travelling throughout South Yorkshire are being warned by Northern Rail that they face the prospect of long delays and cancellations to some services.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow accused Northern Rail of ‘smears and personal attacks’ to influence the result of the ballot.
“We are angry that instead of sitting down with the union to address the issues at the heart of this dispute, management have resorted to a campaign of smears and personal attacks in a desperate attempt to influence the outcome of this secret trade union ballot,” he said.
“There is rock-sold evidence of a deliberate and cynical drive to use casual, agency staff to undermine job security, pay and working conditions on Northern Rail and our members are furious that not only have the company refused to stop this practice, but they are driving it forwards.
“The union’s executive will now consider this result but RMT’s core demand could not be clearer, an immediate end to Northern Rail casualising the workforce.”
Northern Rail says that strike action by RMT members is likely to cause major disruption to services.
Adrian Thompson, HR Director, Northern Rail, said: “We are disappointed that RMT Northern members have voted in favour of strike action, but note that only just over one third of members voted yes while 63 per cent of members voted no or abstained.
“The RMT claims that we are ‘casualising the workforce’ or replacing permanent employees with agency are completely unfounded and untrue.”
Mr Thompson added Northern Rail will inform customers of any strike action as soon a possible.