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London Underground And Southern Rail Combined Strike Action Could Cause Major Disruptions Next Month

'London Underground knows that it has compromised safety.'

26/10/2016 12:04 | Updated 26 October 2016

Commuters could face chaos on both the London Underground and the rail network in the lead up to Christmas with combined strike action being planned. 

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) threatened strike action on Wednesday with nearly 3,500 workers being balloted from November 1 to November 15 on whether to strike next month. The action is in protest against job cuts and safety measures. 

RMT is embroiled in a long-running dispute with Southern Rail over the role of conductors. 

Martin Keene/PA Archive
Commuters could face long delays if union members vote to strike next month.

Aslef is also set to declare the result of an already announced strike ballot among 1,000 trains drivers on Southern Rail on November 18.

According to the Evening Standard, leaders of both unions expect overwhelming support for strike action. 

Southern Rail faces a potential complete shutdown due to the two ballots. 

The TSSA union has also reportedly warned that a strike ballot among up to 1,600 ticket staff is also now “inevitable”.

RMT said it is involved in an “on-going battle over job numbers, the critical safety role of control rooms, forced displacement of staff, grading and a crisis resulting from London Undergrounds closure of ticket offices”.

It said that 873 jobs have been removed from stations, leaving staff unable to cope with the demands of running busy stations.

Many station control rooms, where communication and alarm systems should be monitored, have been closed, RMT said.

It said that last week’s terror alert at North Greenwich Station underlined the urgency of the situation.

Philip Toscano/PA Wire
RMT is in a long-running dispute with Southern Rail over the role of conductors. 

Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary said: “London Underground knows that it has compromised safety and customer service across its stations by cutting jobs.

“A responsible employer would reverse the job cuts and put staff back into station control rooms.

“If London Underground really cares about passengers it would reverse the ticket office closure programme.

“The continuing impact of those cuts leaves us with no alternative but to move to a ballot for industrial action and the terror alert at North Greenwich last week has confirmed the urgency of the current situation and the nonsense of axing station staff.

“The union will be campaigning for a massive ‘yes’ vote in this ballot and we remain available for talks.”

Mark Wild, London Underground’s managing director, said: “The safety of customers and staff is our top priority and our hardworking people ensure that London Underground remains one of the safest metros in the world.

“There are more staff available to customers in public areas of stations than ever before and crime is at its lowest ever level. 

“An independent review‎ of the closure of ticket offices is being conducted by London Travel Watch to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality customer service.”

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