London

London Underground workers balloted over job cuts

Ticket hall Image copyright PA
Image caption TfL said the plans would save £50m a year

London Underground station staff are to be balloted for strike action over plans to cut 750 jobs and close ticket offices.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) is balloting 1,300 members over industrial action, which could be taken from 3 February.

Transport for London wants to have staff in ticket halls and on platforms rather than in offices.

It said the plans would save about £50m a year.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) have already been balloted over possible industrial action. The result will be announced on Friday.

London Underground (LU) has said it would seek to avoid compulsory redundancies.

It also wants to introduce 24-hour services on five lines next year.

It said sales at ticket offices only accounted for about 3% of all journeys, after announcing that staff would be switched to station concourses.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said the ballot was a result of the "reckless" behaviour of London Mayor Boris Johnson.

"He wants to scrap permanent station supervisors, who are in charge of evacuations, and replace them with mobile supervisors, who will travel from station to station.

"But he will not answer the question [of] 'how mobile can you be if all lines are in lockdown because of an emergency and nothing is moving whatsoever?'."

'Safety beyond limits'

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the changes would leave the Underground "a dangerous, hollowed out shell".

"Not only are nearly 1,000 jobs on the line, but those left to pick up the pieces face the humiliation of having to re-apply for their own jobs.

"That is a scandal as the overcrowded Tube network faces continuing demand and pressures that would stretch safety beyond the limits if these cuts aren't stopped."

LU's chief operating officer Phil Hufton said there would be more staff in ticket halls and on gate lines to help customers and keep them safe.

"We're clear that there'll be a job for everyone at LU who wants to work for us and be flexible, that we'll make these changes with no compulsory redundancies, and that we'll involve staff in our plans at every stage and support them through change.

"We are now consulting with our unions and staff on our future vision, and I would urge the TSSA leadership to work with us to shape our plans, rather than threaten hard-working Londoners with completely unnecessary strike action."

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