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TSSA General Secretary to lead union talks at ACAS today

4 January 2017

Talks to resolve the dispute between TSSA and London Underground (LU) over chronic and dangerous understaffing of the Tube resume at the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS) this morning (Wednesday 4 January).

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, will be leading the TSSA negotiations himself in a bid to broker a definitive agreement with London Underground management to restore the number of Tube employees to safe staffing levels.

Cortes will press for a speedy resolution to the dispute and says a breakthrough could head off 24 hour TSSA strike action due to start at 6pm on Sunday evening.

800 tube jobs were axed by Boris Johnson in April last year - in his last month of his tenure as Mayor of London - which seriously downgraded CCTV safety monitoring across the entire tube network, closed all ticket offices and replacing them with ticket-vending machines.

However. passenger frustrations with the loss of visible staff and the absence of staff to assist when vending machines sell the most expensive tickets, discharge the wrong ticket, don't give the right change, do not renew Oyster cards, retain cash cards or, just simply break down have led to a sharp spike in verbal and physical abuse towards Tube customer service staff who are now obliged to be on solo gateline duty.

Moreover the severity of the Johnson regime jobs cull has meant that since April the Tube has only been able to stay open because our members have been agreeing to work almost continuous overtime shifts.

Says TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes,

“This dispute has been rumbling on since Boris Johnson, in his last act of wanton, City Hall vandalism, decided to axe 800 jobs on the tube, close it’s ticket offices and play a perilous game of Russian roulette by downgrading safety practices.

“Sadiq pledged a review of transport security in his election campaign and I am pleased to say he kept that promise when he commissioned London TravelWatch to review the impact of Johnson’s cuts. But TravelWatch reported back in November. They agreed more staff focal points - what til April we called ticket offices- were needed but so far nothing has been done.

“Talks at ACAS so far have been taking steps in the right direction. Everyone round the table agrees more staff must be taken back on the tube. But the talks are too slow for my members who have had great hopes in a new Labour administration quickly undoing the damage done by Johnson and the the Tories.

"Tube safety for us really is a matter of taking pride in our job and a care for safeguarding and assisting the travelling public. My members want to know that they and their customers safety is being taken seriously by their bosses.

"So I’m leading the talks at ACAS today myself to try and get us all closer to the a decision on both the job numbers and decent safety standards which we all know we need back to the tube as a matter of utmost urgency and hopefully avert a strike at the beginning of next week."

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