Tube row over 'secret job cut plans'

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The Independent Online

A fresh row over jobs at London Underground flared today when a leading union claimed to have unearthed secret plans to cut several hundred jobs.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said it had received a leaked document, headed Minimum Staffing Levels, which it warned would lead to cuts in Tube station jobs.

Transport for London accused the union of "scaremongering" and said it has no plans to reduce staffing below safe levels.

The union said the document, leaked by a "senior management source", discusses minimum staffing levels needed for the safe evacuation of Tube stations.

"Over the years numbers have increased without much control," said the document, adding that little consideration had been given to running some services if there was an incident which led to stations being evacuated.

"We need to remove our own created barriers. We can create flexibility and control risks at the same time," said the document.

Minimum staffing levels were first introduced after the King's Cross fire in 1987 which claimed 31 lives.

Legislation was passed in 1989 that introduced firefighting and precaution measures with an estimated increase in staffing levels by 1,700, according to the union.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Despite all the election promises from London Mayor Boris Johnson that he would not cut back on operational staff and ticket offices, the truth of what is going on behind closed doors at LU and TfL is starting to emerge and it is clear that the cash-saving measures under discussion would devastate Tube safety.

"RMT is committed to fighting these plans and we will continue to alert the London travelling public and Tube workers to the scale of the attack that is being cooked up for the capital's transport system in secret meetings."

A TfL spokesman said: "This is yet more scaremongering by the RMT's leadership. We have no plans to reduce staffing below safe levels.

"We have consistently made clear our commitment to keep all of our stations staffed throughout the day and stations will always be staffed to ensure passenger safety and the highest standards of customer service.

"As we've said before, given the need to adapt as the Tube upgrades are delivered, and to ensure value for money, we are looking at how we can be best organised to provide that service.

"No decisions have yet been made, but stations will always be staffed at safe levels, and trade unions will be consulted about any proposals."

The union has been claiming for some time that TfL has plans to close ticket offices at 144 stations with the loss of 1,200 jobs, which LU has denied.

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