Tube workers set to strike over job fears

A series of 24-hour strikes by London Underground (LU) workers is to be launched next month in a row over jobs, threatening travel chaos for passengers and costing the economy tens of millions of pounds, it was learned today.

The walkouts, by members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, are set to start on September 7, the day after the House of Commons resumes following the summer recess.



Monthly 24-hour strikes are expected to be held, as well as a ban on overtime, unless plans to axe 800 jobs are scrapped by Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson.



RMT leader Bob Crow and TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty met today to finalise the strike timetable, which will be announced tomorrow.



Members of both unions have voted in favour of a campaign of industrial action over plans to cut 800 jobs among station staff.



Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce, said: "If these strikes go ahead it will cause massive disruption to London's firms and damage our city's reputation as a reliable place to do business.



"Each day the Underground is shut it will cost the London economy £48 million and hamper the recovery of all sorts of companies still hungover from a crippling worldwide recession.



"The unions need to accept that everyone in the private and public sectors are having to do more with less nowadays and understand that holding millions of commuters to ransom is an unacceptable response to not having its demands met."



Howard Collins, LU's chief operating officer, said: "It is simply not possible to go on with a situation where some ticket offices sell fewer than 10 tickets an hour.



"It is clear that passengers can be better served by getting staff out from behind the windows of under-used ticket offices.



"We need to change, but we will do so without compromising safety, without compulsory redundancies, and in a way that means all stations will continue to be staffed at all times and all stations with a ticket office will continue to have one.



"The weak mandate for strike action, which saw only around 35% of TSSA members and less than a third of RMT members voting for a walkout, should resonate with the unions' leadership."



Mr Collins added the strikes were in nobody's interest and should not go ahead.



Transport for London (TfL) said the quietest ticket offices included North Ealing, which sells fewer than six tickets an hour, and Latimer Road and Moor Park, which sell around seven an hour.



Sales from ticket offices were down 28% over the last four years as more people switched to the Oyster card payment system, with only one in 20 Tube journeys starting with a visit to a ticket office, said TfL.



"The changes proposed by LU are designed to ensure that customer service and safety remain the top priorities, that staff remain available at every station to help customers, and that all stations that currently have a ticket office service will continue to have one with opening times to reflect customer demand.



"Staff will be more effectively deployed to areas of stations where they can better assist customers, whilst delivering the best possible value for fare and taxpayers.



"The proposed changes would mean a reduction in the total number of posts across LU, but will involve no compulsory redundancies, and will have no impact on the Tube's high safety standards," said TfL.



Most of the 800 jobs set to be axed were among ticket office staff, although 150 will be cut from management and administrative staff, representing less than 5% of LU's 19,000 workforce.



Mr Crow said: "These cuts would leave stations and platforms unstaffed and would remove the very people who are trained to deal with emergencies.



"Our members have voted for strike action to defend their jobs and the safety of the Tube network, and we hope that Tube users will stand with us to demand that existing safety standards are not ripped to shreds.



"In recent weeks we have seen potential disasters narrowly averted, with a fire at Euston station and a runaway train on the Northern Line, and Boris Johnson's cuts would deal a potentially fatal blow to the ability to deal with emergencies."



* Tube drivers at LU's White City Central Line depot have voted to strike over the sacking of a colleague, the RMT announced today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has over 40 years ...

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific