The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 5th October 2018

Union fights to save transport jobs

by New Worker correspondent

TRANSPORT union RMT has launched a campaign against the proposed closure of 51 London Overground ticket offices. Arriva Rail London (ARL) and Transport for London (TfL) have launched a formal consultation on the proposed closures, which ends next Thursday. The union is urging supporters to protest by email to London TravelWatch. The planned closures affect all areas of the network from Acton Central in the west to and Surrey Quays in the east, and from posh Hampstead Heath to impoverished Shadwell.

The union warns that passengers will not be able to get all the tickets and services needed from a ticket machine, will miss out on advice on tickets and fares, and will experience more delays and concourse congestion. This will particularly affect the disabled, elderly and vulnerable who may be less confident using a ticket machine, and may end up overspending or deterred from travelling.

Safety will be affected by leaving stations understaffed and sometimes unstaffed. It will also make it harder to provide a safe and secure environment — especially with CCTV often left unmonitored.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash urged Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to oppose “this retrograde plan for wholesale closures in the strongest possible terms. Ticket offices play a crucial role at train stations,” adding: “London needs to greet its passengers, visitors and tourists not with a machine, but a welcoming and friendly ticket office who can provide a full range of services.”

Meanwhile, London Underground (LU) tube drivers on the Piccadilly Line had a 48-hour strike last week. The strike began after LU bosses wrecked ACAS [Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service] talks by refusing to bring any new proposals or make any serious progress on the core issues at the heart of the dispute.

The dispute was over a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations, abuse of procedures, and the reneging on key safety and operational improvements promised by management after previous rounds of industrial action.

Mick Cash said: “Our driver members stand rock solid as the strike action gets underway in the fight for respect and justice in the workplace and a safe and supportive working environment on London’s crucial Piccadilly Line.” He accused the bosses of being “hell-bent on confrontation regardless of the impact on nearly 800,000 passengers a day on the main tube artery out to Heathrow Airport”. On the roads, bus drivers in London have taken a sceptical view of plans by TfL to provide more outer-London services because of fears that this may simply be a cover for cuts in Central London.

Unite the Union said: “Transport for London’s plans represent the biggest shake-up of London’s central bus network in years and will leave many bus workers worried about their future. Unite will be seeking assurances over jobs and expects to be fully consulted on the impact any changes may have on the workforce such as drivers having to move bus garages or be retrained on new routes.” The union warned that Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to move away from move away from private car use would be defeated if cuts were made to central London services.