Ticket Offices at Risk
By New Worker correspondent
RMT has also announced that it is balloting for strike action over plans to close ticket offices on the London Overground.
For the last two years the transport union has been campaigning against plans to axe Overground ticket offices. Although the initial plans were pushed back the union is now accusing both Arriva Rail London and Transport for London “of trying to smuggle through a closure programme by stealth”.
Specifically, on Monday the union announced it had received confirmation that revised ticket office hours (ie reduced to only between 7:30–10:30 am) will be implemented at Bruce Grove and South Action whilst temporary closures of two other stations, which were in place whilst the review was being conducted, will now be closed permanently. More closures are forecast if the present proposals are not defeated.
Overall the plans mean a cut in hours of over 65 per cent across the Overground, with some stations cut by 80 per cent.
RMT points out that stations will become less safe, secure and accessible, passengers will not be able to access all ticket types and services at a machine, elderly and disabled passengers, will struggle to purchase tickets and get advice, and the present round will make it easier for London Overground to close more ticket offices and reduce staffing even further in the future.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “The consultative process has been exposed as a sham and our members are not prepared to sit idly by when safety and accessibility are once again sacrificed for profit.
“The Mayor must step up and demand these ticket offices remain open and that TfL [Transport for London] is adequately funded to service all the people of London equally instead of employing measures that will discriminate against the disabled and vulnerable.”
On the River
By New Worker correspondent
Another group of London’s transport workers will also embark on a 24-strike the week before Christmas. They are 56 employees on the Woolwich Ferry (established 1308) who are employed by Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd to take an estimated 2.6 million passengers per year across the Thames.
This dispute is about getting the London Living Wage (£10.75 per hour) on basic pay, the imposition of changes to overtime and shift working, failure to adhere to the agreed job evaluation scheme, and a failure to deal with equality issues. Additionally, new ships introduced in January have had continual technical problems.
In June and July, 10 one-day strikes failed to resolve the issues and two years ago there was an acrimonious and long-running dispute with the same employer, which runs the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), over a bullying culture and health & safety issues.
Speaking on behalf of the workers, Unite regional officer Onay Kasab noted that: “It is understatement to say the management at Briggs Marine Contractors has a very poor record when it comes to employment relations over a number of years.
“Unfortunately, bad employment practice seems endemic within the management team as they continue to ignore previous agreements on job evaluation and equalities, and they ‘slice and dice’ the pay of an already low-paid workforce.”
The company claims that it is indeed paying the London Living Wage – but only by taking into account overtime and weekend working is it doing so, instead of only counting basic pay.
Kasab concluded by saying that: “Unite will not stand by and allow this horror show of employment practice to continue. It is high time that Transport for London reviewed its contract with this notorious employer.”