London Underground has set out plans to “beat” next month’s strike action by members of the RMT union.
Two strikes will take place on 4-6th February and 11-13th February in protest at planned job cuts and the closing of all ticket offices.
The union says the plans will render the Tube network unsafe and place passengers at risk, claims denied by Tube bosses who insist every station will remain staffed.
LU says new technology will allow ticket hall and platform staff to assist passengers with ticket purchases and that it is committed to ensuring the network is accessible to mobility impaired passengers.
On Thursday it announced that hundreds of ‘TfL Ambassadors’ – mostly office-based staff from across Transport for London’s operations – will be used to “beat” what it calls “totally unnecessary” strike action.
Tube bosses say these “fully trained and licensed” staff will support RMT members who reject strike action by carrying out roles normally undertaken by Customer Service Assistants including staffing ticket lines, assisting customers with queries and assisting at platform level with managing crowd movement and announcements.
An LU spokesperson confirmed that a second group of Ambassadors who aren’t safety-critical trained will be deployed on the non-paying side of ticket barriers “to offer guidance and advice to customers to help them get around London.”
Phil Hufton, LU’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Under our plans to modernise the service we offer our customers all of our stations will remain staffed and controlled by our people at all times when services are operating.
“In fact, we will have more staff visible and available in ticket halls and on platforms to help customers buy the right ticket, plan their journeys and to keep them safe and secure. We’re also committed to implementing these changes without compulsory redundancies.
There’ll be a job for everyone at LU who wants to work with us and be flexible.”
The TSSA union is currently balloting its members for possible strike action over the closures and job losses.
Hufton said: “Given these assurances, we urge the RMT and TSSA union leaderships to end their strike threats and to work with us to shape the future of the Tube.”
LU’s plans to use the Ambassadors have been welcomed by Conservative members of the London Assembly.
Transport spokesman Richard Tracey AM said: “Londoners will be hugely grateful that these volunteer staff will be keeping the City moving in the face of union blackmail. They join the 5,722 RMT members who turned their backs on militant union bosses and refused to vote for their ridiculous strike action.
“Now, I’d urge all of our tube workers to stand together with Londoners, and send a strong message to union leaders, by turning up to work as normal.”