Stations Job Cull Revealed - Vote YES to strike against cuts!

Posted in Tubeworker's blog on Wed, 08/12/2021 - 11:16,

So, management have finally shown their hand – or, more accurately, the first of many hands they intend to deal at us. Don't think that the other grades have escaped a bullet - they are most definitely next in line if we don't all unite to defeat this.

In a weak concoction of disingenuous points, the company tries in vain to make the case that it could cut 5-600 station staff without damaging customer service. Their arguments are laughable.

Apparently, we need fewer station staff because of lower passenger numbers because of increased working from home. Funnily enough, during the years when passenger numbers grew significantly, they did not increase staff, so how does a fall in number justify cutting them? In any case, they can not know to what extent numbers will recover after the pandemic that we are still enduring.

Then they claim that cutting this many posts (more than one in ten station staff) will not affect the work-life balance of remaining staff. Pull the other one! With management pledging that stations will be staffed throughout traffic hours and that minimum numbers will remain the same, it is simply not possible to do that without increasing the proportion of extreme turns. And in any case, increased workload has a negative effect on work-life balance even if your hours stay the same.

Management also claim that the rise in use of contactless payment means that passengers need less help. This will be news to station staff constantly dealing with passengers who need help with their contactless payment! In any case, we are there to help everyone, not just the confident, card-swiping, besuited commuter. And good luck with the ‘clampdown on fare evasion’ with hundreds fewer staff!

Passengers will feel the impact if these cuts go ahead. Nearly every customer commendation is for a CSA. It is CSAs who help disabled passengers and people in distress. CSAs are first on the scene dealing with safety critical incidents. Every time that management complain about customer assistance they call out for more CSAs. Supervisors can not run stations without them.

Management plan to cut detrainment staff and to reduce ‘SATS’ duties (CSAs on platforms helping to reduce dwell time). This would load yet more responsibility onto drivers and will inevitably lead to more overcarries and PTI incidents, with potentially serious consequences and drivers’ jobs on the line.

Management have deliberately allowed stations vacancies to grow to well over two hundred, and it has been obvious for a while that these ‘vacancies’ would become cut posts. Management will claim that we have managed fine without these posts being filled, so we don’t really need them. The truth is that we have ‘managed’ due to ridiculous juggling of coverage, panicked last-minute ring-rounds, people coming to work sick, and staff doing the work of more than one person. And that has been during a period of low passenger numbers.

Stations can not manage without these posts, and everyone knows that the real reason for this cut is the ‘financial crisis’. The government is demanding that TfL makes cuts of at least half a billion pounds as a condition of bailing it out for another eighteen months – and TfL, instead of resisting this appalling coercion, is going along with it. Moreover, it is looking for cuts not among the comfortable ranks of well-paid managers but among some of the hardest-working but lowest-paid workers on the job. (Tubeworker would also like to point out that the same government and TfL regularly accuse us of ‘holding London to ransom’ when we strike – a phrase that fits their actions rather more accurately.)

Management's plan is currently quite vague, and has no timescale attached. That leaves them wriggle-room to respond to protests against these staff cuts, to back down in the face of resistence.

From Monday, RMT members start voting for industrial action across TfL and London Underground Ltd, demanding that workers (and passengers) are not made to pay for the financial crisis caused by government underfunding and using Covid as a pretext. The ballot closes on 10 January. Although members have four weeks to fill in and return their voting forms, festive chaos and the grossly undemocratic thresholds required by anti-union laws mean that we will need to work flat-out to get an= legally-valid strike mandate.

Remember that this ballot is against cuts to any grade’s jobs and conditions and to all our pensions. It is not just about these six hundred stations jobs – they are just the first slice in a long series of cuts. Management hope that other grades will not rally to the defence of stations jobs. Do not play their game. This is not a ‘stations dispute’. The union is balloting all of us because all of us are under attack. It's a fight for every worker in every grade.

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