Auckland train drivers and guards are not ruling out strike action in a dispute over staffing and safety issues.
Auckland Transport and the rail operator, Transdev, are replacing train guards with transport officers, who have the power to issue infringement notices against fare evaders.
The Rail and Maritime Transport Union says the 160 guards will be replaced with fewer transport officers, although a Transdev spokesman said Auckland Transport are now proposing to have upwards of 200 Transport Officers, more than the 120 originally proposed.
There is no question in our minds getting rid of train managers is a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of public safety
Union organiser John Kerr said in the interest of public safety train drivers and guards today voted unanimously to oppose taking critical staff off trains and replacing them with transport officers.
He said the union members wanted to get the public on side, but would not rule out industrial action.
Kerr said the transport officers would be all over the network and not necessarily on trains doing critical safety jobs like getting people on and off trains and providing first aid.
"This idea of transport officers is a sop. There is no question in our minds that getting rid of train managers (guards) is a cost-cutting exercise at the expense of public safety," Kerr said.
In a statement, Auckland Transport said the combination of on-board transport officers and more electronic gates at rail stations will reduce vandalism, fare evasion and create a better experience for commuters.
Transport officers will operate on 24/7 shifts and be able to be deployed to where and when they are most needed, the statement said.
Meanwhile, police are still making inquiries in the case of a violent and sexual assault by five men dressed in costumes on a train from Britomart to Avondale on August 12.
A man has been arrested after allegedly indecently exposing himself to two teenagers on the train. The man was charged with indecent exposure and will appear in Auckland District Court on September 7.