Tube strike: London set for travel chaos after Underground staff vote for walk-out

The potential action comes amid a row over staffing, safety and regulations

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Thousands of London Underground staff have voted to go on strike in the run up to Christmas as passengers face travel chaos.

The potential action comes amid a row over staffing, safety and regulations.

The RMT union has announced that balloting of their members resulted in "massive votes for action" by both Tube station staff and Piccadilly Line drivers.

Both results will now be considered by the RMT's executive.

More than 3,000 RMT station staff members were asked to vote over the impact on safety of the cutting of nearly 900 frontline workers at stations across London. Eight-five per cent of voters opted for strike action.

The RMT claims cuts have left safety on a "knife edge", highlighting recent incidents at Canning Town and North Greenwich stations as evidence.

Hundreds of Picadilly Line drivers were also balloted in a dispute over alleged breaches of policies, procedures and safety, which the union says has created a "wholesale breakdown in industrial relations." A similar number of Tube drivers also voted for strike action.

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said: “RMT members on the London Underground stations see day in and day out the toxic impact of the job cuts programme and they are reporting back that it is horrific."

"With the constant overcrowding on stations and platforms it is only a matter of time before there is a major tragedy if we don’t act decisively.

"Our dispute is about taking action to haul back the cuts machine and put safety back at the top of the agenda.

“In the separate dispute involving drivers on the Piccadilly Line, safety is again a major factor and is tied in with the ripping up of policies and procedures and ignoring warnings from staff.

"Our members have been left exposed and vulnerable and we have no choice but to blow the whistle before lasting damage is done."

“RMT members have now voted overwhelmingly for action in both these disputes and the results will now be considered by the unions executive. The union remains available for talks.”

The news followed an announcement from the Transport Salaried Staffs Association that it will ballot hundreds of its Tube members for strikes over the closure of ticket offices.

The TSSA said its members had been subjected to increased threats and abuse since a programme of ticket office closures started.

A survey for the TSSA found that most of the 540 staff felt less safe since they moved from ticket offices on to station concourses.

The so-called Fit for the Future programme was introduced by former London mayor Boris Johnson. His successor Sadiq Khan has ordered a review of the ticket office closures.

TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: "My members say Fit for the Future working practices are fit for nothing and should be scrapped.

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"They are overstretched by the rosters, stressed by how unsafe the Tube has become, and fed up with the spikes in abuse, both verbal and physical, from passengers."

The union said staff were being targeted by frustrated passengers if ticket machines do not work.

Mr Cortes said travellers wanted ticket offices to be reopened.

"While we acknowledge Sadiq Khan has ordered a review of the chaos caused by closing ticket offices, our members are so fed up and fearful they are now prepared to force the pace of change with strike action to highlight their concerns."

Steve Griffiths, Transport for London's chief operating officer for London Underground, said: "Our staff work hard to serve the millions of customers that pass through the Tube and rail network every day.

"Everyone has the right to go about their work without fear or intimidation and we do not tolerate any form of verbal or physical assault on our staff."

Additional reporting by PA

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