Jeff Slee, Secretary RMT SE Regional Council, personal capacity, examines Boris Johnson’s plans to cut staffing on London Underground.

RMT members on London Underground have voted by a huge majority for industrial action against the company’s biggest ever attack on the jobs, pay and conditions of Tube workers. RMT has called two 2-day strikes, on February 4 to 6 and 11 to 13. Station grades will also not carry out revenue duties in the peak periods on February 7, 10 and 14. TSSA is also balloting their members for a strike, with their ballot closing on January 27, so they could join the RMT’s strike days if their members vote in favour.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “Not only are a thousand posts on the line, but staff remaining are going to be forced through the humiliating and degrading experience of re-applying for their own jobs – the same staff who have been hailed as heroes when the Tube has faced emergency situations. These cuts would hit the vulnerable, the elderly, those with disabilities and women the hardest. De-staffing stations, with supervisors running operations three stops down the line on an iPad, would turn the Tube system into a criminals’ paradise where those with violence and robbery on their minds are given a clear run.”

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, blamed the ballot on the “reckless” behaviour of London Mayor Boris Johnson who, he said, was refusing to meet the unions over their genuine fears for safety and security with the wholesale closure of every ticket office. “It was the Mayor who came into office in 2008 with a firm pledge to keep open every ticket office on the grounds of keeping passengers safe and secure at all times. Now he wants to scrap the lot.”

TubeThese cuts are a result of the Government’s 12.5% cut in funding of Transport for London. But they also reflect the aspiration of London Mayor Boris Johnson to take on the Tube unions. And they are just the first instalment of TfL’s aim of cutting costs by £4.2 billion by 2021. LU has an agenda for further cost-cutting, including removing drivers from trains, and replacing skilled workers’ jobs with automation in areas such as train maintenance, engineering and service control.

LU also wants to phase out the Oyster card, replacing it by contact-less bankcards. This would mean that any ticketing problems experienced by passengers are no longer dealt with by LU, but by the passenger’s bank! Also, anyone who doesn’t qualify for a contact-less card from their bank will have to pay the full price at a machine.

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