Belfast Telegraph

Tube workers announce 24-hour walkout in January in jobs row

Thousands of London Underground workers are to stage a 24-hour strike in the new year in a dispute over jobs.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) will walk out from 6pm on Sunday January 8.

The unions are embroiled in a long-running dispute over job losses among station staff and ticket office closures.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT will not stand by while safety is compromised on London Underground off the back of cash-led cuts to staffing levels that the union has warned would have a serious, lasting and corrosive impact for staff and passengers alike. That is why our members are taking this action.

"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.

"It has now also been shown that at management level there is agreement with the union that the cuts have been a disastrous mistake.

"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."

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: "Whilst talks at Acas have seen LU concede they do need to re-employ more staff on our Tube, they are so far unwilling to give the assurance that they will restore adequately safe staffing levels to make our Tube safe again.

"Our members are fed up of being made scapegoats for passenger frustrations with the new - and failing - ticket-vending machines, they are fed up of being pressured into overtime to try to cover up the misguided decision to cull over 800 jobs, and they are fed up of being fearful at work.

"The recent 'bomb incident' at Greenwich North revealed the huge holes that now exist in the security and evacuation procedures because of the Tory-driven cuts.

"Our members have been very optimistic that a new Labour regime in City Hall would be more fair-minded than Boris Johnson but they have become disillusioned with the failure so far to apply a speedy solution to a problem everyone is now prepared to admit exists."

The TSSA said its members are being subjected to increased threats and abuse since the programme of ticket office closures started.

Steve Griffiths, chief operating officer for London Underground, said: "We have always committed to reviewing our new staffing model with the trade unions during its first year. Following talks we are recruiting additional staff for stations and believe this will help us to provide a better service for our customers.

"We will continue working with the unions as well as implementing the independent recommendations made by the London TravelWatch review to ensure our customers feel safe, fully supported and able to access the right assistance at all times. We would encourage the unions to work with us on this process rather than threatening strike action."

London Underground said a planned strike by drivers on the Central line on Christmas Eve had been suspended.

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