Rail workers at train operator One have voted for further industrial action in support of a sacked colleague.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union backed possible strike action by 300 votes to 59.
It follows the sacking of Paul Yarwood for gross misconduct. The company claims Yarwood confronted and headbutted an alleged fare evader, who is now facing a trial, having been accused of threatening and abusive behaviour.
More than 100 guards, revenue-protection inspectors and retail staff in north Essex have already taken two days of action in defence of Yarwood.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “There is massive anger at the company’s abysmal failure to stand by staff who face the daily danger of abuse and assault while management stay safely hidden away in their offices.
“Rather than continue to bury their heads in the sand, the company should recognise that its stance is unacceptable, re-instate Paul, and start listening to its workforce,” he added. “If they do not, they will face strike action by all our 800 members across the company.”
The RMT said it would consult union reps before deciding its next move.