Page last updated at 20:32 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Rail strike suspended for talks

National Express train
Workers were due to walk out from midnight on Monday

A strike planned by workers at two rail firms operating across the South East and East Anglia has been called off.

About 1,500 staff at First Capital Connect and National Express East Anglia were due to walk out from midnight next Monday.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) ordered the strike, accusing the two firms of failing to guarantee no compulsory redundancies would be made.

A union spokesman said the strike was suspended to allow for further talks.

RMT secretary Bob Crow said the two firms that run commuter services into London were seeking to cut jobs "to maintain profits and dividends".

He said that cuts to services and the use of agency and contract labour were creating job losses when both companies were showing profitable operations.

"National Express has seen its UK rail profits jump by 28%.

"First Capital Connect is determined to slash booking office opening times at more than 40 stations by 800 hours a week, despite revenue growth of 8% and a £55m dividend," he said.

The union is to begin talks with National Express East Anglia and First Capital Connect as soon as possible on the issue of compulsory redundancies.

The two companies have announced they are to restructure their operations in particular areas of their business.

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