March 11 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior Reporter
Monday, January 13, 2014
London Underground staff could strike in protest against controversial plans to close Tube station ticket offices and axe hundreds of posts.
Every office on the District Line in Havering would close as part of the plans, which will save Transport for London (TfL) more than £40million a year.
The authority is trying to avoid compulsory redundancies but more than three quarters of RMT union members who voted were in favour of a strike and even more wanted other industrial action.
General secretary Bob Crow said: “The 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.”
He claimed the changes would make the Tube a “criminal’s paradise” and affect vulnerable and elderly passengers.
Another rail union, the TSSA, will start its own ballot next week and executives will decide what action to take.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary, highlighted London Mayor Boris Johnson’s U-turn on his previous promise to protect ticket offices.
He said: “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.”
Transport for London’s changes are some of the biggest ever attempted on the network.
More ticket machines will be put into entrance halls when 260 ticket offices are shut by 2015, and staff stationed elsewhere in stations.
New visitor information centres will be opened in major central London stations and some will see a boost in staff.
The Central, Piccadilly, Victoria and Jubilee lines and part of the Northern line will also be part of the “night Tube”.
The changes will result in the loss of around 750 posts, although London Underground is trying to limit redundancies.
Phil Hufton, London Underground chief operating officer, said there will be more staff in ticket halls and on platforms to help customers and keep them safe.
He added: “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 will be a job for everyone at LU who wants to work for us and be flexible.”
A London Underground spokesman said fewer people were buying tickets from offices in recent years and staff would be less “remote” from customers after the changes.
Only 30 per cent of RMT members balloted took part in the vote, he added.