Why are we on the verge of another Tube strike?

Roped off tube train during strike A deal was supposed to have been settled in February after the last strikes

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Many will be baffled as to why a deal on the Tube strike - supposedly settled in February - has now unravelled.

This dispute is about ticket office closures which the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union opposes. Its members will now strike tonight.

London Underground LU wants staff in the ticket halls as it says new technology has made ticket offices underused. It wants ticket halls to become "customer service centres" with ticketing machines.

The RMT wants a station by station review to see if there is any merit in some being saved.

Commuters queue for buses outside Victoria Station during the last strike There was widespread disruption during the last strike in February

It thought it had got an assurance from LU but for whatever reason an actual review of closures - as opposed to staffing in the ticket halls - hasn't happened.

LU seems to blame a lack of ideas and engagement from the RMT.

Instead of ticket offices, LU says it will have a handful of visitor centres.

Help desk

From what I gather, this will be a help desk also with ticketing machines, like we see at Network Rail stations. Could we see more of these? Could the RMT be persuaded to regard these at ticket offices?

What also muddies the water is all the unions - RMT TSSA, Unite and ASLEF - are involved in consultation talks as well. These other talks seem to have created some changes from LU mainly about the staffing process.

You have to remember this restructuring will cause 950 job losses.

London Underground has said: "LU has guaranteed that not a single member of staff will be forced to leave the company as a result of plans to modernise customer service on the Tube.

Anger and uncertainty

"There will also be no compulsory redundancies and LU is seeking ways to ensure no member of staff sees their pay cut as a result of the changes proposed."

But there is still anger amongst staff and uncertainty. Some will have to apply for another job. Some jobs will change. Some will have to move area. Some fear loss of pay."

Also, to facilitate more staff at the busier stations, quieter stations -called "local" stations by LU - will become staffed by just one person. The number of lone working stations will double. The unions aren't happy about that.

What also complicates this is the RMT are in the process of an election for a general secretary.

Bob Crow

I have been assured by the RMT that it has no bearing on this dispute but there's no doubt the absence of Bob Crow changes the landscape.

And everyone in the London transport world has a theory on what impact that has on the talks.

Are LU out to crush the RMT? Are the RMT candidates trying to bolster their credentials? Are the politics now being put way above the passenger?

Also don't forget the dispute of 2010 over reducing ticket offices opening hours.

Those changes went through despite RMT /TSSA strikes. All of the above overshadow these talks.

Tom Edwards Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Saving money and providing a good service make difficult bed fellows. If RMT/LU etc. want to generate revenue, offer a good service and have more commuters then any real solution has to improve the underground dependability and this includes reducing ticket costs, hiring helpful service staff and 24 hr tube availability. Leadership for the commuters not special interest is needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    If driverless trains are introduced, this will be the thin end of the wedge. Next will be driverless buses and taxis.

    This will increase unemployment, at a cost to the taxpayer.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Having one person alone at a place with the potential dangers of a railway station, has got to be against just about every good working practice in the book. They will wait until a few get killed or beaten up and then change it back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    TFL have put out a clear notice stating all staff would be offered jobs. There would be no redundancies. I have yet to see the union refute this claim. The only line I hear trundled out by unions is about safety. How does a person behind a glass window (when there!) make the tube safer? And how does the overcrowding in streets and platforms during strikes improve safety?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The last time the union striked over "safety" they settled for another lump of inflation-busting wage rises and benefits. If it truly were about safety, they would not accept these terms.

    Why can't we get driverless trains? The DLR is not truly driverless - they have a PSA on board, yet they have next to no problems. RMT haven't given reasons why this wont work for LUL.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Can not wait until LU announces the launch of automated trains as in other countries. The proverbial will hit the fan then!

    Just off to dust down the bike.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Sad that all tube workers are being tarnished with the same brush here. Many do not want or support strike action and most are as hard working as any one else. The problem is that we tube-using public are absolutely fed up with being held to ransom by militant dinosaur tube unions when we see tube drivers pay & holidays way in excess of any other profession. A firm stand is long overdue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    In Paris they have driver-less trains- why can't we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The drivers aren't on strike! There will be trains running all over the place, just no staff at stations. If you can get to a station that's open then you will be able to travel fine. Let me make this clear, ASLEF, the drivers union, does not support this strike and all the drivers will be there, bar a few who are in RMT because they have cheaper membership. Fact

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The DLR manages just fine without drivers. Why do Tube staff have an automatic right to keep a well paid job even when they aren't needed any more. I wish I could keep a well paid job even when it was clear I wasn't needed any more.

    I'm just glad I don't have to deal with the silliness any more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Sack all the tube workers tomorrow please? and start recruiting new people who are passionate with the jobs that already gives excellent salary (starting at £27,000 pa)

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    There will be no compulsary redundancies.

    So why are they striking? Surely only people with an IQ above, say, 75 should be able to vote on these matters?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Its about time Londoners stood up and said enough is enough....we are tired of this union's strong arming tactics to get what it wants selfishly at our continual cost. I would support a severe loss or disruption of service for months if it meant those striking for "safety reasons" were let go permanently. We all know these strikes are really about pay and conditoins and about halting progress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Paris has driver-less trains, only major stations manned. I manage tower the machines-they have multiple language instructions-are the ticket office multi-lingual?

    After racketeering at Olympics, and now Londoners, visitors and businesses to ransom again, focus should be on as much automation as is possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Why do we have another strike?

    Lazy tube workers think they should keep their incredibly high paying jobs even though they have no work. Bring in automated trains asap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    2. sclarke
    Upgrade all the London Underground Lines to make the trains driver-less.
    Come on now, be fair. How they manage to keep a train on those tracks is just amazing, especially without a steering wheel !!

    It's a highly skilled job, that's why it pays £50k+ a year.

    Oh hang on....

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    There is a simple solution, Boris.

    Don't shut ticket offices.

    Alternatively, what arrangements have been made to find staff jobs, once the ticket offices have shut ? Oh I see Boris : nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Tube drivers have to be the single most ungrateful people in the world. They are always on strike and although they may have my support in the beginning they most definitely don't now.
    I'd happily see them all sacked and replaced with the many people on the unemployment list, I hear it comes with good wages and additional "holidays" thrown in whenever they fancy it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Nobody loses their job, nobody has their pay cut. Those are the facts.
    Surely if it is all about 'public safety' it should be the 'public' protesting!
    Seems like the union is just trying to prove something, i.e. it can hold us all to ransom.
    It is shocking that in 2014 a fundamental service like the tube can be closed because of union strikes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Upgrade all the London Underground Lines to make the trains driver-less.



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