Trans Pennine Express drivers to be balloted for strike action

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Rail Union RMT has confirmed today that it will begin balloting drivers on First Transpennine Express next week for both strike action and action short of strike after it emerged that the company has been bypassing the agreed machinery of negotiation in relation to non-approved staff driving trains.

The union has become aware that there have been several instances of Driver Standards Managers (DSM’s) driving trains across the TPE network.

The company have claimed that this practice is consistent with the conditions of service.

However, the clause they have used only relates to managers driving trains in emergency situations, for example clearing the running line to a point where the original driver would have been relieved or secured the train. The union’s position is very clear; managers should not be operating trains and that the instances catalogued do not represent emergencies.

The union’s National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has agreed to ballot all RMT driver members at TPE for strike action and industrial action short of a strike. Ballot papers will be despatched to members home addresses from Monday 29th February 2016 and the ballot will close by first post on Tuesday 15th March 2016.

RMT’s sister organisation, the ASLE&F, are similarly balloting all their members employed by First Transpennine Express, over this matter.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:n “There has been a deliberate attempt by TPE to use every excuse in the book to undermine its drivers and to try and bulldoze through fundamental changes to working arrangements that are simply intolerable to the unions.

“RMT has no option but to ballot our driver members on TPE over what is a clear cut and concerted effort to draft in casual and non-approved staff to carry out functions that should be allocated to the permanent driver workforce.”