Boris must act on “lethal cocktail of job and safety cuts”

Ken Livingstone, London’s last mayor, exclusively told Left Foot Forward: “Millions of Londoners are experiencing chaos in getting to and from work today, yet the Mayor refuses to meet the two unions involved in this dispute, which arises in part from Boris Johnson breaking an election manifesto commitment to protect tube ticket office opening hours.”

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) began the first in a series of 24-hour strikes last night. Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote in the Evening Standard that he “will not accept them and am therefore fighting to preserve and improve our transport infrastructure”.

The union says the strikes are aimed at fighting against 800 job losses, which they claim will compromise safety. Plans unveiled by Transport for London (TfL) could see ticket offices around London closed by almost 7,500 hours each week.

As Simon Fletcher has pointed out on Labour List, Boris has broken his manifesto promise to keep ticket offices open, which he made in the document “Getting Londoners Moving”, where on page 2 he pledges to:

“Make Transport More Convenient:

“…By halting the proposed Tube ticket office closures, and ensuring there is always a manned ticket office at every station.”

It is not just the convenience of passengers that union members say they are looking to protect – it is claimed that removing staff from ticket halls compromises personal safety, especially for women. A number of incidents, including two fires, have been spotted and dealt with by Customer Service Assistants (the position Boris proposes to cut) before they became emergencies.

Ken Livingstone, London’s last mayor, exclusively told Left Foot Forward:

“Millions of Londoners are experiencing chaos in getting to and from work today, yet the Mayor refuses to meet the two unions involved in this dispute, which arises in part from Boris Johnson breaking an election manifesto commitment to protect tube ticket office opening hours.

“I met residents and commuters at Rayners Lane tube yesterday, and they told me they want a clear assurance that their stations will be adequately staffed and made as safe as possible. The Mayor needs to concentrate on his day job and start talks to remove the possibility of any more disruption.

“It can be done. Between 2003 to 2008 I cut the number of shifts lost to industrial action by 98 per cent by engaging with the unions and putting the interests of Londoners first.

“Running London’s transport system is one of the most important responsibilities of the Mayor, it is time for Boris Johnson to act to keep London moving.”

As the Underground network began to close down yesterday, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said:

“There do not appear to be any corners that London Undergound are not prepared to cut in order to bulldoze through their lethal cocktail of job and safety cuts.”

Adding:

“Instead of playing fast and loose with safety it is about time that the Mayor and his officials took the issues as the heart of this dispute seriously, removed the threat of  these savage cuts from above our members heads and cleared the way for meaningful talks aimed at protecting safety and safe staffing levels.”

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4 Responses to “Boris must act on “lethal cocktail of job and safety cuts””

  1. Shamik Das

    From @clairee_french on @leftfootfwd: Boris must act on “lethal cocktail of job and safety cuts” http://bit.ly/aDPNAw ft. @Ken4London

  2. Sevillista

    Ken has little credibility fighting the cuts – he wanted to implement them in the first place.

    That said, Boris is behaving undemocratically in enacting this policy despite both the manifesto commitments he made and the fuss he kicked up about retaining ticket offices and rejecting the arguments he uses to justify the policy.

    It’s clear that Boris believes the unions have a strong case judging by the platform on which he sought election.

    Those commitments in full:

    “Make Transport More Convenient…by halting the proposed Tube ticket office closures, and ensuring there is always a manned ticket office at every station”

    “I will also defend local ticket offices. Ken Livingstone plans to close a large number of ticket offices at Tube stations, predominantly in outer London because he claims that the increase in Oyster use has made them surplus to requirements. However, what he has not taken into account is that local people feel it is important there is a manned ticket office at their station, as often there are not enough Oyster outlets in the local area. There has been little consultation with local residents, and I think it is wrong that some local stations could lose this service. I will stop the planned ticket office closures, and focus on increasing the number of Oyster outlets in outer London so local people have greater access to Oyster”

    “We deplore Ken Livingstone’s proposed closure of 40 London ticket offices on the underground network, including at several important suburban stations and key central London stations, such as Cannon Street and Regent’s Park. Unsurprisingly, Ken Livingstone has delayed these unpopular closures until after the election. The latest round of closures are due to take place in October 2008. TfL claims that these offices make hardly any ticket sales, such is the widespread use of Oyster. However, many of these ticket offices still make ticket sales of more than 100 tickets per day.146 In addition, manned ticket offices provide a reassuring, visible presence. They can act as a first point of call in times of emergency or help and staff can see the whole station via CCTV screens. The ticket offices are not being closed to save money; Ken Livingstone has promised that no staff will lose their jobs. There has been significant local opposition to the proposed closures. One petition to the London Assembly generated 3,449 signatures for just one station, North Harrow.There is little financial, strategic or common sense in these closures. We will halt all such ticket office closures immediately”

  3. Evidence based.

    Its hardly suprising that Ken didn’t have as much industrial action; when you reside over such pay increases even Bob Crowe can’t complain. I genuinely find it quite upsetting that, people who effectively oversee a train attached to a track through a tunnel, get paid considerably more than public servants of greater value- teachers, Nurses, me. I’m sorry tube drivers need to realise they have an excellant deal, and that if they want to engage about concerns about safety, creating a general adversarial culture is NOT productive.

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