28/08/2010 - TfL Death Wish?

AS our article London Underground Strike Looms noted, Transport for London - TfL - wants to axe 800 posts at London Underground stations and ticket offices.  Unions claim that this will compromise operational and passenger safety on the network.

Not content with this, TfL now wants to double the length of time between safety-critical train inspections from 14 days to 28 days.

Workers claim that regular inspections (of systems and equipment) are crucial to staff and passenger safety.  The 14 day inspections are able to identify problems like worn brake blocks and cracks in securing brackets.  These cost-cutting measures could have dire consequences.

It’s also feared that this will be the thin end of the wedge in terms of jobs.  Could TfL use the change in inspections as an excuse to attack established terms and conditions of work?  Indeed, would they use it as an excuse to cut even more jobs?

London Underground’s maintenance crew are highly skilled workers.  But are TfL planning to dump them and replace them with private contractors?  This wouldn’t surprise us.  Transport for London is run by the mayor’s office – and London’s mayor is the Tory, Boris Johnson.  And, as we’ve pointed out in previous articles, the Tories are ideologically committed to the idea of privatization.

London Underground already faces strikes in September, October and November.  They may be facing more soon.  For workers are so worried about the delayed safety inspections, that they are talking about walking out in protest.

Do Transport for London and the management of London Underground have some sort of death wish?