Workers at Britain's biggest rail franchise vote to join RMT industrial dispute


Workers at Britain's biggest rail franchise have voted to join the RMT national rail dispute in what the union as described as an 'emphatic' ballot result.

Initially, staff at Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern rejected walking out having voted back in May.

It meant workers were not on the picket lines during three days of action across the country last month, although services across the Govia Thameslink network were severely disrupted with just a small number of trains able to operate.

Now, the RMT union says its second ballot for members saw an 80% yes vote with a turnout of 57.5% in their dispute about pay, working conditions and jobs.

A Thameslink train Credit: Press Association

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch: "This fantastic result is a credit to our elected officers and lay activists who worked around the clock to deliver this emphatic result.

"Our members were denied their democratic right to strike due to draconian ballot thresholds but having smashed through those at the second time of asking, they are raring to join our campaign.

"GTR staff are now able to join our fight and have a legal mandate to take action in the future, to get a negotiated settlement on pay, job security and working conditions.

"We will continue our negotiations next week with Network Rail and the train operating companies with a view to getting a deal that meets our members a just deal.

"We cannot rule out further strikes and we are focused on winning this dispute and coming to an agreement with rail bosses that gives our members what they need."

Angie Doll, Chief Operating Officer, Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express said:

“While we are disappointed that passengers may now face more disruption, our focus remains on encouraging the RMT to work with the industry to seek a swift resolution.” 

The RMT dispute comes as the drivers union Aslef and the TSSA, which represents station and engineering workers, announced they will ballot their members for strike action on the railways.

No further strike dates have been announced with discussions taking place between Network Rail, the Rail Delivery group and RMT union.