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Why We Are on Strike

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"No ticket offices will be closed, alright? The answer to the number of ticket office closures is: nil," that was Boris Johnson when standing for election as London Mayor.

Now all ticket offices are to be swept away under a tidal wave of austerity cuts cooked up by the Mayor and his officials that run counter to the most clear-cut and explicit promises any politician could have made to their electorate.

In a cynical attempt to re-write history we now have tube officials denigrating the function of ticket offices and the staff who work in them to fit their latest script.

Ticket office staff and their platform colleagues are the eyes and ears of the service. Trained and experienced in evacuation and other emergency procedures, they are on hand to assist passengers to get safely from A to B. The removal of these key workers would turn the tube into a no-go zone for many and a paradise for those with violence and theft on their minds.

I want to nail the lie that RMT is against modernisation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My union has campaigned relentlessly for investment in London Underground, to upgrade and expand services, to replace the archaic fleet and infrastructure with the best available and to tackle backlogs of maintenance and renewals. Londoners deserve that.

What we will not accept is a scandalous attempt to dress up savage, austerity-led cuts under the cloak of "modernisation". There is nothing modern about reducing the tube to a hollowed-out shell where a skeleton staff is stretched to breaking point.

London Underground's own assessment of the impact of its proposals on passengers raises concerns that the cuts will have a seriously adverse impact on women, older and disabled people and on ethnic minority communities.

It admits that there is a "perception that there will be fewer staff and therefore more crime and antisocial behaviour at stations" and that "concerns about crime and antisocial behaviour tend to affect the travel patterns".

The assessment also says "disabled customers are more likely to experience difficulties relating to physical accessibility, which might be impacted if station staff numbers were reduced" while "older people can develop a range of disabilities and are more likely to experience difficulties relating to physical accessibility".

When we said this dispute was about both jobs and services we meant it and this analysis shows just how hard the cuts will hammer key sections of the London community.

None of this has been factored in before the cuts bulldozer was unleashed and reinforces RMT's call for the proposals to be suspended to allow a proper and open evaluation at a conference involving unions, management and tube users.

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