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Who would you blame for a Tube shutdown?

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Tom Edwards Tom Edwards | 00:01 UK time, Friday, 16 July 2010

Tube Strike lock-out

We've had smaller strikes so far this summer that haven't caused much disruption but now news of the Big One.

It's been brewing for three months and was talked about before the general election, but it's taken the RMT Union a while to sort out the admin.

This admin is important especially these days because the courts have already blocked an RMT National Rail strike due to inaccuracies in the records of members.

So it seems that's why there has been a long delay to get to this point.

This is a full ballot by the RMT Union of all its members across the Tube network.

It will close on 11th August and it will ballot on strike action, and action short of that.

I'd be extremely surprised if the RMT didn't get a strike result, so we could feasibly have strikes by the end of the summer.

And if all RMT members go on strike, apart from a handful of services, the Tube would shut down.

What the strike is about is the proposed closures of some ticket offices and cuts to staff.

These were proposed on 11 March by London Underground.

At the time it said the cuts would include 100 managers, 450 ticket office posts and up to 200 other jobs.

LU said it completely ruled out compulsory redundancies and would look at re-deploying staff and this was about the success of the Oyster card.

Also ticket offices would be closed although every station that has a ticket office would still have one.

What it means really is if a station has two ticket offices and one isn't used regularly then it could be shut.

The RMT claim up to 140 offices could go and some hours of opening will also be cut.

The TSSA Union thinks 278 stations will have their hours of opening cut and some will be shut at the weekend.

This is what London Underground said about the RMT threatening strike action back in March:

  • Stations will continue to be staffed at all times
  • All stations with a ticket office will continue to have one
  • LU reiterates that there will be no compulsory redundancies

The RMT Union say this will jeopardise safety. They have also brought the 7 July bombings into it by saying the staff that served London so bravely then are now facing the axe.

Bob Crow said:

"This is a dispute about jobs and safety and that's why it involves all of our members on London Underground. We remain available for further talks but nobody should underestimate our determination to push back the tide of job and safety cuts."

Huge crowds for the bus because of a tube strike

London Underground are two years ahead of many areas of the public sector in trying to push through cuts.

So many will be watching this closely because it could give some indication of how job cuts on a national level will play out.

Also Boris Johnson's opponents will be lining up to point out that during his mayoral election campaign the following was in his manifesto:

"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."

So what do you think? Do you have sympathy with the Unions?

Or should jobs and ticket offices be cut if technology is being used more by passengers? And will it be safe?

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