The RMT union has announced a 48-hour strike by train guards working on the London Overground.
The union is opposing plans to remove the guards from the North and West London Lines and convert them to Driver Only Operation.
The East London and Euston-Watford lines already operate without guards and the move would standardise operating procedures across the network.
The union claims the guards are “safety critical” and is blaming recent cuts in Transport for London’s Government funding for the decision to remove them.
Affected staff will go on strike between 00:01 hours on Sunday 25th August 2013 and 23:59 hours on Monday 26th August 2013.
Announcing the strike dates, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT has made it crystal clear that those cuts will be resisted by this union with all means at our disposal, including industrial action.
“The news that millions of passengers are to be put at risk through plans to throw the guards off London Overground trains on north London routes has already sent shockwaves through transport services and is clearly a foretaste of what is to come.”
Claims that axing the guards will endanger the public have been disputed by a former Managing Director of London Rail.
Ian Brown CBE says the guards were originally retained as “a result of non standard radio systems that required upgrading to the Network Rail standard”.
With this work complete, Mr Brown says the service on the North and West London Lines is “identical in operation to the rest of the system”, meaning the guards are no longer needed.
He added: “To consistently play the safety card…undermines credibility of the trade union and potentially renders the union impotent if a genuine safety issue were to arise.”
London Overground Rail Operations Limited, the company which operates the Overground on behalf of Transport for London, said the strikes were “unnecessary”.
Managing Director Peter Austin said: “LOROL continues to give the RMT assurances on employing conductors in alternative customer service roles and offering a generous voluntary redundancy package to those who want it.
“We urge the RMT to work with us to maintain progress in safeguarding jobs and avoid disruption to passengers.”
He added: “If industrial action goes ahead on Sunday 25 and Monday 26 August, we believe we will still be able to run a regular service on the majority of the London Overground network, with alternative arrangements for routes affected.”