The RMT union is to ballot Gatwick Express workers in a row over “increased automation” at Victoria and Gatwick stations.
Southern, the company which operates the rail link, is increasing automated gating at both stations, a move the union says raises “major concerns” about jobs.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “Yet again this trade union is forced to ballot our members for action because a train operating company is threatening jobs in order to fatten up profits.
“Go-Ahead – which co-owns the Southern franchise – recorded an increase in rail profits of nearly 30% earlier this month raking off £48 million from the railways. They will also be looking forward to a whacking great increase in fares in January while slashing customer service by threatening to dump on-train staff through these automation proposals.
“With this week’s shocking rise in the unemployment figures, of course we will be doing all that we can within our power to defend our members jobs on Gatwick Express.”
The union is to ballot members “for industrial action, up to and including strike action”.
Responding to the union’s announcement, Southern said it was “contractually committed” to gating Gatwick Express platforms at both stations as part of its franchise for the service.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We are disappointed that the RMT has decided to go down this route as we have been consulting with them over this issue and assured them that we don’t anticipate any job losses as a result of this.
“We are actively discussing this issue with the RMT and our people, and will continue to do so.”