Norwich South MP Clive Lewis hits out at Greater Anglia over rail strike
PUBLISHED: 21:18 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 21:18 13 September 2017
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MP Clive Lewis has launched a savage attack on train bosses claiming any changes to staff roles would be about "extracting yet more shareholder profit at our expense".
The Norwich South MP spoke out after Greater Anglia workers voted to strike over a dispute about the role of guards on trains.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union believes guards must operate the doors to ensure passenger safety but Greater Anglia claims driver-operated doors pose no risk for passengers.
The Labour MP said: “Anyone that has travelled on our region’s trains knows that guards do much more than just open and close doors. They offer safety and re-assurance for many passengers, especially women.
“In on-board emergencies they are trained first-aiders and responders. They also provide a valuable source of updated information when trains are inevitably and frequently delayed.
“Yet again privatised train companies – who have for years now hammered passengers with excessive fare increases, want us to believe these changes are in our best interest. Passengers currently paying through the nose will, I hope, see this for the half truth it is. Improved technology is of course welcome. But this is just as much about extracting yet more shareholder profit at our expense.
“I hope the strike can be avoided but if not I’ll be supporting hard-working train guards, standing up for better and safer trains.”
His comments come as Greater Anglia look to open talks with the RMT over the proposed strikes. A company spokeswoman confirmed channels of communication remained open and reiterated their assurances that there has never been any suggestion of guards losing their jobs.
The result of the ballot – nine to one in favour of striking – is now being considered by the RMT’s executive. Exactly when strikes would take place is not yet clear although only InterCity and rural services would be hit.
Greater Anglia has vowed that any strike would be foiled as staff from other roles have been trained up to fulfil the guards’ roles.
The row has been sparked by a new fleet of trains set to enter service in 2019/20 which include doors that can be operated from the driver’s cab.
The RMT has already staged a series of strikes on Southern Railway, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North over the same issue.