Workers on South Western Railway will be balloted to take part in strikes in a dispute over the role guards are to play.
Rail, Maritime, and Transport Union (RMT) members are to vote on industrial action against First/MTR, which only recently took command of the services across the southwest of England.
The union claims the company – which is formed by a consortium of First Group and MTR, which is based in Hong Kong – had not given assurance over the role guards will play on the trains after months of trying to secure a “watertight” pledge.
The union’s general secretary, Mick Cash, insisted it was this failure that left the RMT with no other choice.
He said the dispute could easily be resolved with action averted if the company pledged to stick to agreements already in place to grant a second member of staff to provide safety services.