Friday, October 01, 2010

Tube dispute gathers steam

THE RMT and TSSA unions are stepping up their industrial action on many fronts in their fight to defend safe staffing levels at London Underground stations, after Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to cut 800 staff, whose loss will leave the network less safe.
This involves all sections of tube workers from ticket clerks to maintenance engineers and will involve work to rule, further strikes, the cancellation of weekend engineering works and a refusal to participate in the minimum £5 Oyster card top-up from Sunday 3rd October.
The overtime ban, which is already having a significant impact and causing station closures, remains in force and the staggered 24-hour strikes starting on 3rd October, 2nd November and 28th November are on.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “We have made every effort to resolve this dispute over safe staffing levels through negotiations and continue to pursue a settlement that will protect the safety of both staff and passengers and the quality of service to Tube users at all times and at all locations.
Following talks at Acas yesterday it is now up to London Underground management to come back to us with a positive response.
“Our members have shown their determination to defend the ticket offices, safety-critical station jobs and the whole future of a safe and secure tube network and we have announced the additional action today to push that campaign forwards.
“The Mayor and his transport officials cannot simply wash their hands of this dispute. Boris Johnson has said that he will stand up and fight for London against the Con-Dem government cuts – that’s exactly what RMT and TSSA members are doing on the tube right in the Mayor’s own back yard.
Rather than attacking us the Mayor, as chair of TfL, should instruct his officials to put safety first and withdraw the cuts that they are bulldozing through without agreement and with complete disregard for the consequences.”
Works hit by the overtime ban include major re-railing between White City and Marble Arch, as well as all work on signalling systems.
RMT has calculated that the cost to LU of the cancellations is already at least £15 million, cancelling out the saving the company claims it will make by removing 800 front-line staff.
The union also charged that LUL was running trains that had not been inspected within strict time-limits and was continuing to open under-staffed stations, in breach of safety rules and increasing risk to passengers and Tube staff.
Train brake blocks, cab equipment, chassis brackets and other critical equipment is supposed to be inspected at 14-day intervals, and the union has evidence that trains that have not been inspected for at least 22 days have not been taken out of service, as operating rules require.

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