Posted 11th January 2014 | 7 Comments
RMT to stage 48-hour London Underground strikes
LONDON Underground services are facing disruption during February, because the RMT union has called two 48-hour strikes. Staff at stations will also refuse to collect fares or sell tickets during selected 2-hour periods on three other days.
The action is being taken in protest at plans to close all the system's ticket offices. However, London Underground has urged the union to think again.
The walkouts are planned to start at midday on 4 February and 11 February, and last until midday on 6 and 13 February.
The RMT said there had been a 'massive vote' for strikes and also other action short of a strike. This additional action will take the form of station staff refusing to carry out 'revenue duties' for two 2-hour periods on 7, 10 and 14 February from 09.30 to 11.30 and from 18.30 to 20.30.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT members on London Underground have voted by a massive majority for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute which is wholly about cash-led cuts plans that would see the axeing of nearly a thousand safety critical jobs and the closure of ticket offices at a time when the tube network is under growing pressure from customer demand and needs more staff and not less to ensure safe and efficient operation.
“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. That is a kick in the teeth for the loyal and experienced tube workforce who have kept services running safely and efficiently under constant pressure from weight of demand and a creaking and under-resourced infrastructure.
“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. RMT will work with our sister unions and passenger groups to ensure that tube users understand just what’s at stake as Boris Johnson turns his opportunist election pledges on their head."
However, the news of the strikes has been met by a swift response from London Underground, which is urging a rethink. In a statement, Transport for London said that 'just 30 per cent' of the RMT members who were balloted had voted in favour of action, and also claimed that the turn-out had been low.
It commented: 'The result means that nearly 70 per cent of union members either do not want industrial action or refused to vote'.
The Underground's chief operating officer Phil Hufton added: "Our customers and staff are at the heart of our vision for the future of the Tube. All Tube stations will remain staffed at all times when services are operating, and we’ll be introducing a 24-hour service at weekends during 2015. In future, there will be more staff in ticket halls and on platforms to help customers buy the right ticket and keep them safe and secure.
“We’re committed to working with unions and staff to implement changes to station staffing without compulsory redundancies and we’ve been clear that there’ll be a job for everyone at LU who wants to work for us and be flexible. I urge our trade union colleagues to work with us to shape the future of the Tube.
“I want this to be a real consultation and I’m determined to listen to all views expressed. However, threatening industrial action will be seen by hard-working Londoners and businesses as totally unnecessary given all the commitments we have made.”
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