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13.01.17

RMT threatens further Tube strikes in station staffing dispute

RMT has confirmed it will renew strike action on the Tube next month unless London Underground can meet its demands on station staffing and safety.

The threat marks continuation of the union’s industrial action last weekend, when LU staff associated with RMT and the TSSA went on strike over the dispute over staff cuts and ticket office closures.

The union has now said that LU’s staff cuts have left station control rooms unstaffed, threatening passenger safety, and that further strikes are imminent unless LU emerges with serious proposals for negotiation by 6 February.

“RMT members have shown this week that they will not stand by while safety is compromised on London Underground off the back of cash-led cuts to staffing levels that the union has warned would have a serious, lasting and corrosive impact for staff and passengers alike,” said the union’s general secretary, Mick Cash.

“With the constant overcrowding on stations and platforms it is only a matter of time before there is a major tragedy if we don’t act decisively. Our dispute is about taking action to haul back the cuts machine and put safety back at the top of the agenda.”

RMT has highlighted as justification for its argument an incident last year in Canning Town station, where a woman was left trapped between the train and the platform for fifteen minutes because the control room was unstaffed following cuts.

TfL’s safety report into the incident acknowledged that the operating model “did not match customer demand or resourcing levels”, leading the union to argue that LU bosses accepted RMT’s “unarguable” case for restoring safety-critical staff.

The union has confirmed that it remains open for talks with LU, with TfL confirming that the parties are due to meet at ACAS to discuss the issue on Monday.

Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer, who wrote for the last issue of RTM, said: “We look forward to resuming talks at ACAS on Monday in order to make progress towards resolving this dispute.”

A review by London TravelWatch into the office closures – which began in 2014 under former London mayor Boris Johnson’s Fit for the Future plan – rejected the idea of reopening the offices.

However, the watchdog agreed that a number of new measures were key to rolling out the closures safely, including making staff more visible. TfL has now promised to implement its recommendations.

Earlier this week, members of the Greater London Authority  criticised current mayor Sadiq Khan for failing to avert last weekend’s strike, accusing him of backing down on his pre-election pledge to bring ‘zero strikes’ during his term as mayor.

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