Friday, October 28, 2011

Jobs and safety carnage on the London Underground

 London Underground (LU) is planning cuts which union leaders say are “a blueprint for jobs and safety carnage”. Some 1,500 jobs would go in plans detailed in LU’s Operational Strategy report made public by the RMT transport union on Monday.
 Amongst a raft of cuts-led proposals supposed to address the financial chaos left behind by the Private Public Partnership and the Mayor’s £5 billion assault on budgets, the report suggests:
•           The axing of more than 1,500 jobs;
•           Driverless trains with drivers replaced by “train   attendants”;
•           Closure of all ticket offices with just 30 stations having all-purpose “travel   centres”;
•           Across the board financial cuts of 20 per cent:
•           Freezing recruitment, ripping up existing staffing agreements and imposing a   system of overtime and part-time working;
•           De-staffing stations through an escalation of the existing job cuts programme   which would turn the stations into a vandals and muggers paradise.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This document tells us everything we need to know about the operational strategy of London Underground – massive increase in fares alongside an unprecedented attack on jobs and safety.
 “Every single ticket office would be closed, stations left unstaffed and drivers would be thrown out of their cabs without a single thought for passenger safety.
 “In recent months we have seen from an escalation in cuts-led breakdowns just why the train and platform staff are so critical to safety on the system.
 “This ill-conceived and finance-led document ignores reality in favour of austerity and would impact on every single staff member on London Underground.
 “It would leave passengers stranded in tunnels with no means of evacuation and would turn the platforms and stations into a muggers and vandals paradise.
 “RMT will work with our sister tube unions and passenger groups on a campaign to ensure that this document and its prop
 London Mayor Boris Johnson has often hinted at the introduction of driverless trains and the TFL strategy paper speaks of, over the next decade: “the introduction of automatic train control across the network” – “increasingly drivers will not be needed” and “the new generation of trains will prepare themselves for service – even to the extent of arriving from depots unaided”.
 As booking offices close tickets will eventually only be available from machines that will only accept bank cards.
 The Oyster card will disappear and passengers will be encouraged to use the “wave and pay” scheme currently being tested where a bank card is used instead of an Oyster card. But it fails to take into account the increasing numbers of people who cannot get bank accounts or bank cards in the current economic climate.
 And passengers experiencing increasing hold-ups and delays from faulty trains, tracks and signals will wonder who is going to let them know what is happening or lead them to safety if the train has no driver.

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