Rail union boss Mick Lynch speaks to packed meeting in Wigan about ticket office closures
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The RMT General Secretary visited the town’s Central Bar for the public meeting on Monday, after Wigan North Western, Atherton and Hindley stations were earmarked for the controversial scheme to axe ticket offices and to move staff onto platforms to help passengers.
The closure programme now forms one of the elements of the long-running dispute between the RMT and rail companies over pay and conditions, which has crippled railway services on strike days.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Lynch said the dispute was currently “in stalemate” and there was no sign of a settlement.
"I understand the anger of people but if we don’t pay public sector workers we’re never going to get a decent system. Job security is the main issue, and then protecting our terms and conditions.
"There is a commonality of interest between users, taxpayers and workers against the bosses. The ticket office closures will see people losing staff from their stations and 2,300 job losses, which is the vast proportion of jobs in the system.
"The closure of ticket offices has serious implications for disabled people, people travelling alone and those who just want assistance.
"Stations are a real hub for the community. We need a properly funded public railway which benefits the people of Wigan, rather than the train companies.”
The Government and train operators say ticket office staff will be moved from behind screens on to platforms to help passengers.
The RDG said 12 per cent of train tickets are bought from offices at stations, down from 82 in 1995.
Passengers will be asked to pay for journeys by tapping contactless cards on barriers, using self-service machines, or buying tickets from staff on station concourses or trains if possible.
But unions believe thousands of jobs will be axed, while the plans have been criticised by groups representing elderly and disabled people.
The RMT believes it will also restrict passengers’ access to the best value tickets, worsen passenger service, safety and security.
The deadline for responding to the consultation has been extended to September 1.