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LU station staff strikes set to go ahead after talks break down

Talks between London Underground (LU) and rail unions have failed to reach an agreement, meaning a 24-hour strike of station staff is expected to take place on Sunday 8 January.

RMT and TSSA called the strikes of station and revenue workers, which will affect all routes, in protest at ticket office closures and cuts of 900 frontline staff that were made last year.

Discussions at ACAS headquarters took place yesterday and resumed today, but unions accused London Underground of failing to make progress and said the strikes were still set to go ahead.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said: “RMT is bitterly disappointed that LU brought nothing new to the negotiating table today despite assurances that fresh proposals to tackle the growing safety and staffing crisis would be forthcoming.

“As a result of LU's failure to address the issues at the heart of the dispute the talks are adjourned and all action remains on.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of TSSA, criticised LU for “a complete lack of urgency” and for failing to take resolving the dispute seriously.

“We need a significant increase in staff numbers, in the hundreds, just to be back in a position where our Tube can be operated safely and securely, and where station closures are no longer the norm,” he added. “The reality is that LU management are currently wasting millions on overtime and other payments to keep stations open when it’s cheaper and safer to simply employ more staff. This is the economics of the mad house.”

Cortes said the union was prepared to continue talks over the weekend, but that LUL must produce clear plans for restoring staffing to previous levels.

Brian Woodhead, operations director for London Underground, said it was currently implementing safety recommendations in a London TravelWatch report into the office closures, and unions should work with LU instead of striking.

In December, RMT agreed to suspend drivers’ strikes on the Piccadilly and Hammersmith & City lines after reaching a last minute agreement with LU.

(Image c. TfL)

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Jerry Alderson   07/01/2017 at 18:59

When something isn't being done as well as it could then ways need to be found to improve it. Throwing more humans at the problem isn't necesarily the right solution and very rarely is it the sole solution. Let's take an exmaple that affected me in December 2016, on the evening of Black Friday. Unfortunately that day of peak shopping also saw operational problems with Piccadilly Line trains. As a result there were fewer Piccadilly Line trains running and the platforms became overcrowded so they stopped people entering the Tube at King's Cross/St Pancras, where I was. Fine. But, they stopped access to all deep lines, even though only one of the three deep lines had crowded platforms. That was because the walking routes to all three lines are the same and there is no holding area. Frankly our largely Victorian Underground is not fit for purpose and investment is needed to cope with greater passenger numbers. More staff is just a sticking plaster. Personally I would rather see capital expenditure to solve the root cause of the problems rather than propping up an ailing system with additional operational expenditure.

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