London rail workers to strike over sacking

Workers at a rail company are to stage a 24ihour strike in protest at the dismissal of a female colleague her union said was the victim of an assault by a member of the public angry at being challenged over a ticket, it was announced today.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union at First Capital Connect will walk out next Monday, September 14, in support of a campaign to reinstate the women, Rachel Lock.

Ms Lock, a member of the company's revenue team, was sacked following an incident at a ticket barrier at which the RMT said she was the actual victim rather than the aggressor.

Workers at First Capital Connect, which runs commuter and other services through London, voted overwhelmingly in a ballot for industrial action.

General secretary Bob Crow said: "With the train companies turning up the pressure for more and harsher penalty fares they are putting more and more staff at the risk of assault of the kind suffered by Rachel Lock.

"It's a scandal that, instead of supporting their member of staff in this traumatic situation, they have chosen instead to sack her.

"We will not tolerate a situation where RMT members on revenue teams are treated in this callous and brutal way and we are determined to secure a just outcome for Rachel Lock that protects not just her livelihood, but sends out a clear signal on behalf of other revenue staff running the daily risk of assault."

A spokesman for First Capital Connect said: "Customers should be confident it will be business as usual on Monday. We intend to run as near a full service as possible using fully trained and competent employees to cover for the mainly ticket office, ticket inspector and ticket gateline staff who will be on strike.

"This is an unnecessary strike over the dismissal of an employee for gross misconduct. The incident was seen by several credible witnesses including an off duty police officer.

"The safety and security of our staff is our absolute top priority and we have followed the disciplinary procedure agreed with the unions all the way through to appeal. "