Strike to hit Northern Rail trains

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Trains are set to grind to a halt after railway workers voted to go on strike.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union balloted more than 2,000 members at Northern Rail in a dispute over casualisation of the workforce, pay and working conditions.

Trains through Wakefield Westgate and Kirkgate could be hit by industrial action after a yes vote was announced in ballot of all RMT members, including drivers, guards and managers.

The RMT is protesting against the use of agency and sub-contracted workers who it says should instead by directly employed by Northern Rail.

The union claims this breaches working agreements and leaves casual staff with worse pay and pension provisions than Northern Rail employees.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “If there is work that needs doing, it should be done by permanently employed staff on decent pay and conditions, including the current agency staff, and not by an exploited, short-term workforce paid a pittance and denied the most basic of workplace benefits and who can be hired and fired at will in the name of pumping up profits.”

Mr Crow said the ballot result would now be considered by the union’s executive.

Northern Rail’s HR director Adrian Thompson 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’s claims that we are casualising the workforce or replacing permanent employees with agency staff are completely unfounded and untrue.”