Northern Rail staff balloted for strike over contracts

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Northern Rail station staff are being balloted for strike action over the company's use of sub-contractors.

The RMT union said Northern Rail was using agency and sub-contracted workers to check tickets at stations when it should give the work to its own staff.

Northern Rail said it had contracted work out to one company for 13 years, and another since 2012, and it did "not want to put these people out of work".

The earliest date a strike could take place is the next bank holiday, 27 May.

The company said the impact of any strike would be unclear until a date was confirmed but it would do "everything we can possibly do" to keep services running.

'Furious' staff

The RMT said Northern Rail's use of external workers was "completely unacceptable, and breaches agreements and working practices".

General secretary Bob Crow said: "This is a 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."

Northern Rail said the RMT was demanding it either sacked or employed the 260 people who carry out the contracted work.

Adrian Thompson, the company's HR director, said: "We do not want to put these people out of work.

"These contractors carry out a vital role. The changes that the RMT is demanding would also potentially breach the rules governing the last 12 months of our franchise agreement."

Northern Rail serves many northern cities, including Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Hull, Leeds, Sheffield, York, Carlisle and Newcastle.

About 2,000 of its 4,900 employees are members of the RMT.

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