Negotiations between the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and London Underground (LU) are underway to resolve the dispute concerning plans to close all ticket offices and axe jobs to prevent another walkout. The RMT and LU have met more than 40 times since February, when a 48-hour strike took place but have not managed to sort out the issue. The RMT claimed it would have ceased the latest strike action if LU had consented to a public consultation over the plans which exclude any compulsory redundancies.
What the Transport for London Proposals Include
The new plans for the Tube restructuring essentially involve the closure of all tube ticket offices, a step which is expected to lead to 960 job losses and save £50m a year. The proposed improvements aim to enhance face-to-face service for customers by making tube station staff more visible in ticket halls and on gate lines rather than remaining behind closed doors or glass windows. On top of this, the plans entail the introduction of additional ticket machines that are easier and faster to use.
The Economist reports that “the current strike is not about pay, but a plan to close some ticket offices, which London Underground says are becoming redundant with the advent of electronic travel cards and payment. The union points out that ticket offices are particularly useful for those unfamiliar with the tube system—out-of-town business travellers among them”.
On the other side, the London Underground maintains that staff would be better employed on station concourses as only 3% of tickets are bought at ticket offices.
London’s Mayor Assures There Will be no Compulsory Redundancies
Boris Johnston urged the RMT union to engage in a constructive dialogue and said it is farcical that the strike was the result of a minority of just one union.
“We have got more staff out on the network than we did before, more services running and two thirds of stations open and I am very grateful to London Underground workers who have come out to keep the capital moving”. He assured that “there are no compulsory redundancies, no-one who wants to play a part in the future of the Tube will lose their job as a result of our plans…I urge the RMT leadership to do the right thing - get back around the table, not the wrong thing - muscle flexing in the race for the RMT leadership”.
The hot issue of London tube restructuring seems to be a double-edged sword as it promises to modernise the customer service of TfL with more efficient means but on the other hand there are plausible concerns over job losses. What is your opinion on this thorny matter? Will TfL employees pay the cost of downsizing in the end? Please have your say in the comment section below.
‘This is a wake-up call to the RMT’ - Daily Mail
Image Source & Video: The Telegraph