Railway strikes to hit East Anglia

FORMER colleagues of a rail guard sacked after a confrontation with a fare evader have today voted to strike. Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union at train operator One backed industrial action by 300 votes to 59.

COMMUTERS in East Anglia are bracing themselves for delays after rail workers voted for more industrial action in support of a sacked colleague.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union at train operator One yesterday backed a possible strike by 300 votes to 59 after Paul Yarwood lost his job.

Mr Yarwood was sacked following an incident at Colchester North station in June involving an alleged fare evader.

The Brightlingsea man is now facing a trial later this year, accused of threatening and abusive behaviour.

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Guards and revenue protection officers at the firm have already taken two days of strike action in support of the 45 year-old who broke down in tears when he appeared at Colchester Magistrates Court this month.

Yesterday the union said it had received messages of support from members of the public for its campaign to have Mr Yarwood re-instated.

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The RMT said it will now consult union reps before deciding its next move in order to mount the “most effective” industrial action.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “Our members across One have demonstrated their solidarity with Paul by voting overwhelmingly to strike.

“There is massive anger at the company's abysmal failure to stand by staff.

“We have received a huge number of supportive letters, emails and calls from members of the public who understand far better than the company the injustice that has been done.”

Mr Crow urged people to continue sending their protests to the company.

“We understand that people are having trouble getting through, but we will be happy to pass their messages on.

“We believe the company should recognise that its stance is unacceptable, re-instate Paul and start listening to its workforce.

“If they do not, they will face strike action by all our 800 members across the company.”

But last night, Neil Skinner, vice chairman of the Essex Rail Users' Federation, said the RMT was not popular.

“The impact of any action really depends on who is involved and the extent of the action. The earlier strike had no impact at all because it was covered by other workers.

“The RMT has very little credibility with the passengers as it is like 'the boy who cried wolf' - they have messed people around before, threatening strikes and then cancelling them at the last minute when people have already made other arrangements.”

A spokesman for One said: “We note the announcement of the ballot result from the RMT relating to its members working for One railway.

“We remain open to further dialogue with the RMT. If industrial action is called we will advise the public of any impact it may have on train services.”

He said every effort would be made to deal with any impact of industrial action, but said it depended on the extent of what happens.

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