As you may know The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are currently in dispute with the London Underground (LU) over a number of safety issues. Both unions are now saying that LU have reneged on their promise to ensure that all station staff are directly employed and fully trained to LU safety standards.
RMT, leader Bob Crow said yesterday "After finally getting LUL to discuss these matters in the round, our talks team believed that progress was being made, but today LUL told us that it was going back on its promise to stop using agency and security staff on stations".
TSSA senior regional organiser John Page added: "Experienced station supervisors are a cornerstone of Tube safety, because their key role is to oversee safe operation and cope with emergencies, and if you expect any individual to supervise several stations at once that becomes impossible....This dispute boils down to LUL wanting to put casual staff on stations in place of properly trained Tube staff ".
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.
From what I can work out, Silverlink stations seem to be at the heart of the dispute. These stations were taken over by London Underground in November last year to form the new London Overground. Apparently LU wants to continue using agency staff on former Silverlink stations, including those used for ticketing and revenue duties. According to the unions they also plan to staff the new Heathrow Terminal 5 station (pictured below) with staff subcontracted from other firms but wearing LU uniforms.
The unions want a complete review of the recruitment policy to establish a system that "preserves and encourages a career path for experienced railway staff."
If the talks completely fail there will be ballot to strike by TSSA on March 11th and the RMT is currently serving notice of its ballot. The unions represent 7,500 station staff and drivers and this strike would cause major chaos on the Tube.
A TfL spokesperson said: "All of the issues raised by the unions can and should be addressed through the normal negotiating process.
"That process has not broken down and it would be totally unreasonable to curtail it by threats of strike action which can only lose staff pay and inconvenience the public to no purpose whatsoever."