The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 26th April 2019

On and off the Rails

by New Worker correspondent

TRANSPORT unions have won a major victory that has prevented the closure of 47 out of 51 ticket offices on the London Overground railway network. RMT claims to have been responsible for mobilising over 6,500 hostile responses to closures proposed last September by Arriva Rail London.

After the Mayor of London announced that most of the offices earmarked for closure would remain open, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This is a significant victory for RMT members at the front line of the London Overground service who led the campaign to stop this ticket office carnage and jacked up the political pressure to reverse the cuts. It proves that trade union campaigning works,” He went on to warn that: “However we remain vigilant as in our experience once a package of cuts is proposed they remain an option in the longer term.” The booking clerks and inspectors’ union, the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA), also welcomed the announcement but were wary of the details, and called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to “now pledge to restore staff and ticket offices across the Overground and Underground networks”

. That does not mean that all is rosy in London’s transport garden. RMT has recently warned that it will not sit idly by over the question of further job losses on London Underground. Already preparations for a ballot are underway.

The latest dispute arises from the fact that London Underground has launched a process called ‘Transformation’, which in this case is a polite term for a strategy that aims to cut costs and jobs. Particularly affected are Track Access Control, Power Control, Service Control, Skills Development, Waste, Pumps, Stations Buildings & Civils, and Signals Incidents.

RMT is demanding that the existing negotiated Main Framework Agreement (MAF) is strictly adhered to. The MAF states that any changes in relation to staffing levels will only be carried out following full consultation and negotiation with the trades unions. The union complains this has been brusquely ignored because no negotiations have taken place and no safety review or validation have been provided as required.

Mick Cash has made it clear that unless the union receives the relevant information about the proposals and full information on safety aspects, RMT will withdraw from the consultation.

He also warned that: “RMT members across London Underground are furious at what they rightly see as a barrage of attacks from the company with the job cuts assault under the guise of the ‘Transformation’ process just the latest in a catalogue of grievances that are all about hammering down on pay, staffing levels, safety and working conditions. “RMT has made it crystal clear that we will fight any attempts to rip up agreements as part of a process designed to ram through cash-led cuts that would decimate the workforce and open the door to an assault on job security, pay and working conditions that our members have had to fight long and hard to achieve.”