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Rail strike row erupts

PUBLISHED: 12:06 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:45 25 August 2010

FURIOUS commuters have blasted the proposed rail strikes which are due to take place next week.

FURIOUS commuters have blasted the proposed rail strikes which are due to take place next week.

Train operators are drawing up emergency timetables and have warned that only one in five trains will run if the most serious industrial action by rail workers since 1994 goes ahead, from next Tuesday until Friday, April 9.

The threat to services after Easter involves two separate disputes, one with signal staff, who plan industrial action in morning and evening rush hours, and the second with maintenance workers.

Services are expected to be affected between 6am until 10am and again from 6pm to 10pm, for the four days.

Civil servant Edward Thomas, 29, from New Eltham said: "I am livid. I am not sure if I can get to work in central London. It just puts everything back."

Bank worker Julie Stapleton, from Sidcup said: "It is going to be inconvenient. I can work from home but I am not 100 per cent sure if the train strike is on."

Network Rail claimed yesterday (Wednesday) that there were scores of "inaccuracies and deficiencies" in a strike ballot of signal workers, in which 54 per cent voted for action, and announced it will challenge it at the High Court.

But general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Bob Crow, said the legal challenge was a "scandalous attempt" to use anti-union laws to prevent the workers exercising their right to strike.

He said: "RMT is putting together an experienced legal team, including some of the most high-profile employment law experts in the country, and we will be mounting the most robust defence possible in the high court against this attack by Network Rail on our internal democracy."

Network Rail claimed the irregularities affected almost 300 votes or potential votes in the signal workers ballot.

The RMT's 12,000 Network Rail maintenance members voted by 77 per cent in favour of strikes.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association is also planning industrial action over the company's plans to cut 1,500 maintenance jobs and change signallers' working practices.

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