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TSSA balloting London Underground members over safety

15 November 2016

TSSA members working on London Underground will be ballotted on strike action this week in relation to the worrying and rapid decline in safety standards on the tube network which have accompanied the new working practices introduced in April this year.

TSSA are currently in official dispute with London Underground over reduced station staffing levels which have adversely affected staff and passenger safety following the implementation of the new Fit For the Future programme in April which axed 800 jobs, closed all tube station ticket offices and culled the CCTV monitoring supervisors.

A recent TSSA Safety Impact Survey revealed more than 80pc of our remaining 540 station staff believed themselves to be less safe at work as a result of the new practices which have forced passengers to be served only by limited function ticket machines 79% of TSSA Customer Service Assistants have experienced a sharp spike in abuse - physical and verbal - towards them from passengers who are frustrated by ticket machines overcharge, cannot refund, give incorrect change, swallow payment cards, cannot replace broken Oyster cards, cannot take verbal questions and cannot process group bookings.

The cuts to job numbers have been too vast and remaining staff are now being pressured into working overtime shifts to keep stations staffed at all.

"My members say Fit For the Future working practice introduced by Boris Johnson are fit for nothing and should be scrapped," said TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes.

"They are over-stretched by the rosters, over-stressed by their own knowledge of how unsafe the tube has been made in such a short space of time and completely fed-up with the spikes in abuse - both verbal and physical - from passengers.

"To give you just one example of how unsafe and understaffed the network has become take Harrow station with six platforms, four lifts and two gatelines but just two staff are now rostered to work there at weekends.

"But it's a busy station, with Virgin trains coming in, the Bakerloo line, London Overground. If a disabled passenger needs help, that's a gateline left unsupervised. If a lift breaks down, it requires two staff to repair it,leaving both gatelines unsupervised - so no help for customers at all as they've closed ticket offices. .

"Absence of customer service staff - who are also station evacuation staff - is now systemic. Passengers frustrations are going through the roof. Staff have been physically assaulted because of machines chewing up cards. Yet at Harrow, just two more Customer Service Assistants at weekends with one working in a reopened ticket office could immediately alleviate all problems. This isn't a difficult fix, it just takes the guts to do the right thing.

"Whilst we acknowledge London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan has ordered a London Travelwatch review of the chaos caused by closing ticket offices, our members are so fed-up and fearful they are now prepared to force the pace of change with strike action to highlight their concerns. And we know passengers want a return to better customer-focussed service, a restoration of ticket offices and more staff available to help them on the tube just as much as we do so we are confident of their support."

TSSA's campaign to restore TfL's £700 million central government operating grant received a boost from London Labour's Regional Conference at the weekend. The withdrawal of then subsidy by former Chancellor George Osborne last year has forced the implementation of Fit For the Future and leaves London the only major city in the world without a public transport subsidy. London Labour now wants an incoming Labour government to pledge to fully restore the operating grant which will now go forward for review at Labour's forthcoming National Policy Forum.

note: TSSA strike ballot will begin on Friday this week and close Nov 29.

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