RMT station staff and train operator members voted Thursday by a margin of five to one for strike action in defence of safety on the London Underground.
The strike ballot saw 1,673 members vote for action with 333 voting against. The ballot result opens the way for joint action with fellow Tube union TSSA, whose own members voted for action earlier this month. The unions are opposing management attacks on safety standards and the casualisation of safety-critical work (details in notes below).
RMT and TSSA members will walk out from 6.30pm on Sunday April 6th until 6.30pm on Wednesday April 9th.
The unions have told LUL that its plans for ticket-office closures, de-staffing, lone working, introduction of 'mobile supervisors', use of agency and security staff and other disputed policies amount to an unacceptable attack on safety standards and the casualisation of safety-critical work.
"Each of these issues is serious in its own right, but together they amount to a fundamental and unacceptable attack on staffing across the network, putting our members' and passengers' safety at risk," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “This vote reveals the strength of feeling among our members that the safety and security of the network, for staff and passengers alike, will not be compromised under any conditions.”
Ticket office closures and cuts to opening times:
LUL temporarily halted plans to close 40 ticket offices and to cut the opening times of many more after the unions' campaign campaign last year led to a public outcry. However, LUL has refused to say that the plans have been withdrawn completely.
RMT and TSSA are demanding the complete withdrawal of the plans
Staffing levels - emergency plans and guidelines:
LUL has unilaterally decided to vary Section 4.2 of the Congestion Control and Emergency Plan to remove the specification of the minimum numbers of each grade of station staff that are to be on duty at any time.
RMT and TSSA are demanding the reinstatement of the original numbers of each grade of fully trained and fully familiarised station staff.
Refusal to work on grounds of safety:
Under the guise of simplification LUL has changed its policy, undermining safety and breaching legislation.
RMT and TSSA are demanding the immediate re-instatement of the original policy.
LUL wants to introduce 'mobile supervisors' responsible for several stations, and to continue to staff stations recently taken over from Silverlink only during the limited hours decided by the previous franchise holder. But what happens in an emergency when the mobile supervisor is in the wrong place - or even stuck between stations on a train?
RMT and TSSA are demanding that every station is fully staffed during traffic hours by the appropriate number of customer-service and station assistants, supervised by station supervisors in line with agreements and safety requirements.
Terminal 5 staffing:
LUL wants to staff the new station with staff subcontracted from other firms but wearing LUL uniforms.
RMT and TSSA believe that this has serious safety implications and has demanded that the station is staffed by people trained and employed directly by LUL.
Use of agency staff:
LUL wants to continue using agency staff on former Silverlink stations, including those used for ticketing and revenue duties
RMT and TSSA are demanding that the practice ends when the training of former Silverlink staff is completed and current contracts ends, and a guarantee that only directly employed LUL staff are used for stations and ticketing operations
Use of security staff:
RMT and TSSA are demanding an agreement that security at all LUL-owned or -managed stations must be provided at all times by directly employed staff in appropriate grades, supplemented by the normal co-operation with the BTP and Metropolitan police forces.
RMT and TSSA are demanding an agreement that there must be no rostered lone working unless undertaken from a place of safety.
Direct recruitment of station supervisors, train operators and service-control staff:
LUL is now systematically denying career opportunities to experienced railway staff and recruiting externally, turning on its head an agreement that external advertising can take place if there are insufficient internal applications.
RMT and TSSA are demanding a complete review of recruitment policy to establish a policy that preserves and encourages a career path for experienced railway staff.