The RMT union says members on the London Underground have voted to strike over plans to close all ticket offices and axe 750 jobs.
Plans to modernise the Tube network and introduce an all-night weekend service on some lines were unveiled in November by Mayor Boris Johnson and Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground.
Under LU’s plans, staff will be redeployed from ticket offices to ticket halls and platforms where “the latest mobile technology” will allow them to assist passengers and monitor stations.
The Mayor, who previously opposed the closure of 40 ticket offices by his predecessor, says the closures are necessary to reflect the ongoing move away from paper tickets to Oyster and contactless fares.
Both City Hall and LU say stations will remain fully staffed during opening hours.
However the RMT says the changes will reduce passenger safety, a claim denied by LU, and lead to a worse service for the public.
Ahead of November’s announcement, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said the union would “fight these plans with every tool at our disposal and that includes political, public and industrial campaigning on an unprecedented scale.”
The union says 77% of those taking part in the ballot voted for strike action.
Announcing the results of the ballot, Mr Crow today said: “Not only are a thousand posts on the line but staff remaining are going to be forced through the humiliating and degrading experience of re-applying for their own jobs – the same staff who have been hailed as heroes when the tube has faced emergency situations.
“That is a kick in the teeth for the loyal and experienced tube workforce who have kept services running safely and efficiently under constant pressure from weight of demand and a creaking and under-resourced infra-structure.
“These cuts would hit the vulnerable, the elderly, those with disabilities and women the hardest. De-staffing stations, with supervisors running operations three stops down the line on an IPad, would turn the tube system into a criminals paradise where those with violence and robbery on their minds are given a clear run.
“RMT will work with our sister unions and passenger groups to ensure that tube users understand just what’s at stake as Boris Johnson turns his opportunist election pledges on their head.”
Phil Hufton, LU’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We’re committed to working with unions and staff to implement changes to station staffing without compulsory redundancies and we’ve been clear that there’ll be a job for everyone at LU who wants to work for us and be flexible. I urge our trade union colleagues to work with us to shape the future of the Tube.
“I want this to be a real consultation and I’m determined to listen to all views expressed. However, threatening industrial action will be seen by hard-working Londoners and businesses as totally unnecessary given all the commitments we have made.”
Conservatives on the London Assembly have previously called for a ban on Tube strikes and the introduction of binding arbitration.
Speaking after the results of the ballot were published, transport spokesperson Richard Tracey AM, said: “Yet again, militant RMT bosses are blackmailing workers and businesses with strike misery. If these strikes go ahead, it will be our workers who don’t get paid if they can’t get to work and businesses who will miss out on vital trade.
“RMT seems to be doing everything in its power to block innovation and progress on our tube network, while making sure their members pockets are lined with up to £62K salaries to drive trains, some of which are driverless capable, and bribes just to do their job on public holidays.”