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Tube strikes: Two 48-hour walk-outs over ticket office closures set for February

The RMT will have to give at least seven days notice before taking any strike action (Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images) The RMT will have to give at least seven days notice before taking any strike action (Picture: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Friday, January 10, 2014
12:22 PM

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Workers on the London Underground will stage two 48-hour strikes in February in protest at controversial plans to close Tube ticket offices.

Members of the RMT and TSSA unions will walk out at 9.30pm on February 4 and again from the same time on February 11.

Station staff will stop working, while drivers will not book on for any shifts between the hours of the action.

Transport for London (TfL) plans to shut all 260 ticket offices by 2015 as part of a modernisation project, which also includes making some lines run around the clock at weekends.

The RMT said members voted 77 per cent in favour of strike action in protest at plans it says also put 1,000 jobs on the line.

But London Underground stressed its commitment to keeping stations staffed while trains are running and said the number of RMT workers voting for action represented just a fraction of its membership. It said nearly 70 per cent of members either do not want industrial action or did not vote in the ballot.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “RMT members on London Underground have voted by a massive majority for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute which is wholly about cash-led cuts plans that would see the axing of nearly a thousand safety critical jobs and the closure of ticket offices...”

He added: “Not only are a thousand posts on the line but staff remaining are going to be forced through the humiliating and degrading experience of re-applying for their own jobs – the same staff who have been hailed as heroes when the Tube has faced emergency situations.

The changes represented a “kick in the teeth for the loyal and experience Tube workforce”, he said, adding the cuts would hit the vulnerable hardest and stations would be manned by supervisors “three stops down the line on an iPad”.

London Underground’s chief operating officer Phil Hufton said Londoners would view the RMT’s threats as “completely unnecessary”.

“All Tube stations will remain staffed at all times when services are operating, and we’ll be introducing a 24-hour service at weekends during 2015,” he said.

“In future, there will be more staff in ticket halls and on platforms to help customers buy the right ticket and keep them safe and secure.

“We’re committed to working with unions and staff to implement changes to station staffing without compulsory redundancies and we’ve been clear that there’ll be a job for everyone at LU who wants to work for us and be flexible.

He added: “Threatening industrial action will be seen by hard-working Londoners and businesses as totally unnecessary given all the commitments we have made.”

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, which is coordinating its action with the RMT, said: “It was the Mayor who came into office in 2008 with a firm pledge to keep open every ticket office on the grounds of keeping passengers safe and secure at all times.

“Now he wants to scrap the lot.”

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