Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/492/2532
Deskilling and destaffing - the Tube bosses' dream
LONDON UNDERGROUND management have mounted an attack on the jobs and conditions of tube workers in London. The plan if successful will de-skill, de-staff and almost certainly cut our wages and pension rights.
Reg Johnstone, RMT
The new rule book, forced through without union agreement, seriously undermines health and safety and also threatens to hand over night-time security and the running of stations to privatised companies. It would mean getting rid of night-time station supervisors.
Management also list 40 stations where ticket offices will close, meaning the redeployment of 270 staff. Many other ticket offices will be affected by reduced opening times, which will mean the loss of part-time staff and a change in duties or redeployment of ticket office staff.
Ticket office closures increase passengers' frustration through long delays in buying tickets or renewing their Oyster card (a smart pre-pay travel card).
Passengers take out their frustration on customer service assistants, who are at present being recruited in fairly large numbers. But if management succeed in de-staffing ticket offices they will undoubtedly, either before or after the London Olympics, start to de-staff the underground.
Unless the unions fight the cutbacks, whole swathes of the underground will be without staff apart from at peak times, like national rail already is. This will lead to more incidents of violence, theft and other crimes against passengers and also to poorer service. Also if a passenger has a serious accident or falls under a train there will be no staff to alert the emergency services.
London Underground staff were praised for their swift response during the terrorist attacks in July 2005. Now these proposals will make the underground less secure and less safe for travel.
The public pay the world's highest fares but get anything but a world-class service. Metronet and other privatised companies receive billions of pounds but are way behind schedule in refurbishing the underground network. Londoners want a cheap, efficient and well-staffed underground system.
The only way to guarantee this is to kick out the profiteers and bring the underground under public ownership and under the control and management of workers, elected authorities and passenger groups.
In The Socialist 21 June 2007:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
War and terrorism
Socialist students and ISR
Workplace news and analysis
International socialist news