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Posted on 26 November 2013 at 14:56 GMT

Massive campaign planned against savage cuts on London Underground

John Reid, rail union RMT London regional secretary, is standing for election to the union's national executive, the Council of Executives. Here he responds to the announcement of massive cuts to staffing on London Underground (LU).

The Evening Standard heralded all night running of the Tube in London but hidden in the small print were details of savage attacks on the jobs and conditions of staff and on the service to passengers.

Under London Underground's plans, every ticket office will close, despite the fact that 71% of Londoners want them to remain open.

London Underground argues that only 3% of journeys are resolved at ticket offices. As 1.229 billion journeys (set to rise to 1.5 billion by the end of the decade) are made a year, 3% represents over 100,000 journeys a day. Tourists and visitors to London rely on ticket office staff for help and advice.

The announcement of 953 job losses will further de-staff already seriously understaffed stations, hampering the service provided to passengers, particularly disabled people, those with sight impairment and vulnerable passengers. No wonder that within hours of the report being published there was a large demonstration by disabled groups outside Westminster station.

On top of the slashing of jobs, our contracts would be ripped up. The proposed new structure would place every member of station staff into a new grade. LU has still not published proposed pay rates for these new roles.

Staff would have to reapply for their jobs and face downgrading with only three years protection of earnings. Up to 2,000 staff may face downgrading, with loss of earnings of up to 20,000 per year.

This is to pay for government cuts of 270 million on stations alone, of a total cuts package of 4.2 billion by 2021. This will mean cuts in every area of London Underground, including trains, with driverless trains on the horizon. If the company is willing to rip up the contracts of station staff, they will undoubtedly attempt to do the same to train operators.

Bottom line

We are willing to discuss 24-hour operating at the weekend, as long as jobs and pay are safeguarded for all staff. 24-hour operating should mean more jobs not fewer.

But we will resist the closure of ticket offices, the downgrading of our members, and the savage job cuts. The proposed cuts will seriously affect the safety of the travelling public and of staff.

We will build an alliance with TSSA, Aslef and Unite, whose members also face savage cuts in the present and near future. Already we have met and agreed a resolution with TSSA calling for unity and a total rejection of LU's proposals.We will build links with Tube user groups representing the disabled Tube users and with other community groups.

We will talk to London Assembly members and MPs. But more importantly we will build a campaign with other trade unions and campaign groups to build a mass campaign to defend our Tube.

It is a public service - not a business - that carries 4 million Londoners and visitors to London around its network. We will call upon the people of London to rally to defend our jobs and conditions, as a reduction of our conditions will spark a race to the bottom for the conditions of other workers in London.

LU sent out a press release stating: "London Underground now carries more people, more safely and reliably than ever before, with customer satisfaction at record highs and crime at an all-time low".

Our reward for delivering a world-class service? 953 job losses, ticket offices closed and wages slashed.That is why we are balloting for strike action (and action short of strikes), the only language that LU understands. We will take all-grade action unless the threats to cut jobs and reduce pay are withdrawn.

We believe there is another way: A fully publicly owned service, bring all work back in-house, including cleaning, maintenance and other functions. LU pays a fortune to contractors for work that could be done for a fraction of the cost in-house. This would provide better security and conditions for members who work for contractors and would save millions of pounds for LU.

This would provide better security and conditions for staff who work for contractors and would save millions of pounds for LU.

We say 'open the books'. Let the unions see what is being paid out and let us put forward counter proposals to save money and jobs.

Let's slash the wages of the bosses of LU, some who are paid 400,000 to 600,000 a year.

From 29 November London RMT is balloting for strike action, with the result being known on 10 January 2014.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 26 November 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

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