The RMT union is planning a strike ballot next week following news that TfL plans to cut up to 600 jobs in the customer service side of the London Underground.
TfL is not, currently, planning to make people redundant but will look at whether people should be replaced if they leave. The plans, if carried out would see TfL not recruiting around 250 Customer Services vacancies that are currently unfilled, as well as placing controls on future recruitment, with the aim of reducing posts by a further 250-350 as people retire or move on from TfL.
Overall, this would mean a reduction of around 500-600 posts compared to pre-pandemic staffing levels – although the precise number will depend on consultations with staff and unions.
If the cuts go ahead, then TfL would see the customer service workforce fall from around 5,000 to around 4,500 staff, although TfL has emphasised that even with the reduced workforce, it will still be able to keep stations fully staffed all day when they are open.
Nick Dent, London Underground’s Director of Customer Operations, said “We have been engaging with our trade unions and our staff to seek their views on how we can make London Underground (LU) more efficient and financially sustainable, while continuing to deliver the highest standards of safety, reliability and customer service. We have now begun consulting with our trade unions on proposals to change the way we work in the Customer Service area of LU.”
TfL argues that as customers have changed their travel habits, not just because of the pandemic, but because of existing trends, such as using contactless payments instead of buying tickets and using their smartphone to look up travel information, then it doesn’t need as many staff in the stations to assist customers.
They have confirmed though that the “Turn Up and Go” service will continue, with staff on hand to assist mobility-impaired customers.
TfL says that its impact assessment showed that there would be no detriment to public safety, but the RMT though says that this is the “opening shot in a programme of jobs carnage that will target safety critical station grades”.
General Secretary Mick Lynch said, “A financial crisis at TFL has been deliberately engineered by the Government to drive a cuts agenda which would savage jobs, services, safety and threaten the working conditions and pensions of our members.”
The RMT union will start a ballot of over 10,000 members across all grades from next week, seeking a mandate for strike action.
In other strike news, talks are ongoing to avert the ongoing series of Night Tube strikes, with the RMT seeking 200 additional drivers to be employed by TfL, while TfL is resisting reportedly due to the cost of training the new train drivers as a time of constrained finances.