THE END of last month saw the fourth in a series of strikes on the London Underground. Thousands of workers walked out for 24 hours in the latest industrial action over job cuts.
As we’ve already reported, Transport for London (TfL) – which is run by the mayor’s office – wants to axe the 800 posts at London Underground stations and ticket offices. The two main unions involved – the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) - claim that this will compromise operational and passenger safety on the network.
Given the strength of feeling of the workforce, any reasonable employer would have entered meaningful negotiations by now. But TfL is no normal employer. It’s headed by the Tory mayor of London, Boris Johnson. And Boris seems ideologically opposed to even talking to the unions.
No one wants to go on strike - especially in the current economic climate. And no one wants to go on strike – especially this close to the Christmas and New Year festivities. However, TfL’s workforce are determined to fight the cuts.
They are convinced that they will lead to mass closure of ticket offices, inadequately staffed stations, more lone working, and increased pressure on the remaining staff. They also argue – correctly – that slashing jobs and services is hardly the way to attract new custom.
Unless Boris Johnson comes to his senses soon, more strikes could be on the way.