Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).
The immediate impulse for cut is a 12.5% cut in central government funding for Transport for London, announced in George Osborne’s 26 June spending review. Moving towards DOO is also key recommendation of the McNulty Review into railway industry reform.
LOROL wants to implement DOO by December 2013, and, according to rail union RMT, plan to begin the process even if the new staffing arrangement has not been safety-certified.
A union statement said: “LOROL informed RMT that TfL have ‘exercised a clause in their contract’ giving only six months to implement DOO on the network by the December timetable and have even commenced this process without first achieving the necessary safety validation certification required as they seek to bulldoze it through regardless of the safety risks involved.”
The RMT has promised an “all-out political, public, and industrial fight” to stop the job cuts and began balloting London Overground guards in july. ASLEF has also opposed the cuts, but has not committed to balloting its members.
Cuts are also threatened on London Underground, where bosses plan to cut more station jobs and close ticket offices. Activists demonstrated against the closure of Whitechapel ticket office on Monday 15 July. The union said that the plans to close Whitechapel’s ticket office “totally ignore the fact that the station serves an area which includes a busy market and a major hospital.
“The area is also known for its diverse local population, many of whom need to access staff support at an open ticket office rather than rely on ticket-issuing machines — machines that are vulnerable to vandalism.”
RMT members employed by LOROL will move into dispute over the cuts. LOROL bosses have tried to catch the union off-guard but threatening compulsory redundancies they have little intention of making. Their hope is that the union will focus its demands around opposing compulsory redundancies, leaving itself weak if LOROL withdraws the threat and proposes voluntary redundancies instead. The position from the start should be: not one cut!
Off The Rails believes there should not only be an industrial dispute against LOROL to stop the job cuts, but a London-wide political campaign against the 12.5% cut in TfL funding.
The RMT General Grades Committee has passed policy committing the union to working with other labour-movement and working-class community organisations to build a campaign against the cut, including a demonstration on 8 October when Parliament re-opens.