|RMT Threaten Strike Over Ticket Office Closures
Union claims Underground plans have 'descended into chaos'
Yesterday morning (Monday 22nd September) RMT instructed its members to refuse to work any overtime from Wednesday until further notice, in response to planned ticket office closures from London Underground. Although it described this latest move as "short of a strike", RMT added that it is prepared to escalate industrial action further to force back any job cuts.
The union has been in discussions with London Underground for some months over changes to the Tube, but claimed in a statement earlier today that its hand had been forced by a "management hell-bent on carrying out a programme of major job cuts". Among a series of complaints, RMT has claimed that the recent resignation of London Underground Chief Operating Offficer Phil Hufton, who was closely associated with plans to streamline the Tube service, signals "managerial chaos" at Transport for London. Hufton has moved on to a management role at Network Rail with a salary of £425,000 plus future bonuses.
In response to RMT's latest gambit, Mike Brown, London Underground's Managing Director, has strongly denied that the departure of Hufton will have any effect on plans to reform the Tube. Brown has guaranteed that there will be "no compulsory redundancies" as a result of the plans, and claims that London Underground is "seeking ways to ensure no member of staff sees their pay cut". He added that changes reflect estimates which suggest that less than 3% of journeys require ticket office assistance. TfL expects this trend to continue with the introduction of contactless travel.
Nonetheless, Mick Cash, announced this week as RMT's General Secretary, argues that "many underground locations" will not be given enough staff by London Underground to "safely and effectively run stations", while criticising the use of "unproven, unreliable technology" by London Underground, a reference to contactless travel.
Refusing to rule out a strike in the near future, Cash said: “RMT has repeatedly demanded meaningful talks with London Underground but the past five months has proved that that demand is falling on deaf ears. The union even suspended action to allow those talks to happen but the management have made no movement and are crashing ahead with their cuts regardless and as a result we are now into a new phase of industrial action and our members remain united and determined as we move the union campaign forwards.”