Union warns Tube using 2012 volunteers 'may be lethal'

Passengers at a Tube station Union claims volunteers could be used for crowd control at busy Tube stations

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There could be "lethal consequences" if London Underground uses volunteers to guide passengers during the 2012 Olympics, a union has warned.

The RMT union said using "non-trained staff" at busy stations was a "recipe for disaster".

The union claims volunteers will be used for crowd control but Transport for London (TfL) insists they will only give travel information.

It added its trained customer service staff will be out assisting customers.

The RMT called on London Underground to reverse plans to cut 650 station staff jobs saying the need to use volunteers to fill in 400 to 600 shifts during the Games, "demolishes" the firm's case for job cuts.

'Bursting point'

The union claim volunteers, who will be recruited to help people with so-called "way finding", will be in effect managing the crowd at busy stations.

RMT leader Bob Crow said: "Using unqualified, non-professional, non-trained staff at key crowd control pressure points is a recipe for disaster with potentially lethal consequences.

"With the Tube already at bursting point, and with millions more expected for the Olympics, the last thing needed is wholly unprepared volunteers controlling hundreds of thousands of passengers through stations like Oxford Circus or Stratford."

He said the RMT is now calling on LUL to reverse the 650 jobs cuts and to "get back to the safe and sensible policy of having trained operational railway workers carrying out safety-critical operational railway tasks".

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A Tfl spokesman said: "The RMT is quite wrong - all London Underground staff carrying out safety critical work on stations now and during the Olympics are and will be licensed.

"We have developed extensive staffing plans for the busy Olympics period which will see existing rostered station staff supported and supplemented by Revenue Control staff, LU's Special Requirements Team of flexible station staff and operational trainers who are all operationally licensed."

He said information volunteers, who do not carry out safety critical work, will be utilised to provide customers with advice on their onward journey and directional information around stations as it frequently does during large events.

"We'll meet the challenge of the Games by having our trained customer service staff out on stations where they can assist customers, not behind ticket office windows," he added.

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