I wrote this article for my local anti-cuts campaign newsletter in Hackney in August 2010:
We may not have London Underground here in Hackney (except at our very edges!), but the loss of 800 Tube staff posts would still affect us - in a very bad way. So, many Hackney residents and workers fully support Tube unions RMT and TSSA in their campaigning and industrial action against these cuts. Most of us travel around London regularly, and when we travel by Tube, we need staff to help with directions, tickets, service disruptions and emergencies.
Yet LU management - and their political masters in the Mayor's office - plan to cut 800 jobs and cut ticket office opening times by nearly 7,500 hours. 450 ticket-selling jobs could go, plus hundreds of Customer Service Assistants - the station staff who work on the gatelines and platforms, making announcements, giving information, carrying out security checks, assisting drivers, helping disabled passengers and evacuating stations in emergencies. This will leave passengers to travel with little assistance around a less safe and secure network. The remaining staff will be overworked and vulnerable. And there will be 800 fewer jobs for unemployed Londoners and school-leavers - including those in Hackney.
The unions also believe that this round of job cuts will be followed by futher cuts in Tube drivers, stations supervisors, service control and other staff. Transport for London and London Underground say that in the current economic climate, they have to save money. And yet they pay their top bosses enormous salaries. Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy was paid £393,551 in 2009/10, and several directors were not far behind. If TfL wants to save money, it could cut fat-cat pay and open its books to scrutiny by the public and the trade unions, rather than cut essential frontline staff. Since London Underground announced the cuts in March, union members have been campaigning vigorously against them. Our reps and officials have attended hours of talks with management.
We have dished out thousands of leaflets to passengers, received loads of messages of support, and held protests. We have won the support of passenger groups, disability groups and political groups. The majority of GLA members oppose the staffing cuts and only a Tory walkout prevented the GLA passing a resolution to stop the cuts. We have won the argument. But the Mayor and the company are still insisting on making these unnecessary and damaging job cuts. So RMT and TSSA are now taking the only course left to us to protect our members and our passengers. We will hold a series of one-day strikes, and other action, to put pressure on London Underground to scrap the cuts. Your support can help us to win, and to save these jobs for the benefit of both passengers and workers. Please come to our picket lines, send us a message of support, and tell your MP and GLA member to stop these cuts. SOS: Staff Our Stations!