Job cuts could result in Christmas tube strikes

Goodwill thin on the ground between Metronet and Unions

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London Underground's biggest union is set to ballot 1,800 members at Metronet for strike action over jobs, subcontracting and pensions.

In addition to Metronet members, nearly 1,500 drivers on ten Tube lines will also be asked to vote for action short of strike after London Underground failed to provide assurances that relevant train-preparation and track-inspection regimes would be maintained in the event of action by maintenance staff.

The union will today serve notice on Metronet that members at the company will be asked to vote for action after the company failed to abandon plans to subcontract work and make front-line staff redundant, and imposed inferior pension arrangements on new employees.

Metronet maintains the Bakerloo, Central, Victoria, Waterloo and City, District, Circle, Metropolitan, East London and Hammersmith and City Lines, and parts of the Piccadilly line, and strike action would severely disrupt their services.

“We made clear to Metronet that its plans to subcontract work and further fragment the Tube’s infrastructure were unacceptable to us,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today. “It is scandalous that Metronet should at the same time insist on making experienced front-line maintenance staff redundant, especially when that is in clear breach of the code of conduct they are supposed to abide by. Metronet is also attempting to create a two-tier workforce by refusing new employees entry into the LRTC final-salary pension scheme."

A spokesman for Metronet said “The RMT's call for industrial action is completely unwarranted. If it proceeds it has the potential to cause huge disruption to the public in the run-up to Christmas – a tactic often used by the union. The public will have no appetite for this kind of action.   Metronet has made it crystal clear to the RMT that it is our general policy to retain work within our organisation. We have already re-affirmed that track and signals maintenance will stay part of Metronet."

The statement continued "In the summer, we announced a number of job reductions – up to 285. More than half of these will be achieved through the release of agency staff – and the rest through voluntary redundancy. There are NO compulsory redundancies. The introduction of the 35-hour week has already been achieved in most of the organisation and we are close to an agreement elsewhere.

“The RMT has an unflattering record of calling for industrial action in the month of December – on no less than 7 occasions since 1996 – and all of which were called-off. We have moved closer to an agreement on most of their concerns and we're confident that the remaining issues can be resolved constructively without the threat of industrial action. We call upon the RMT to halt its proposed ballot.”


November 10, 2005