STATION staff escalated their industrial action on the London Underground yesterday after a teenage girl crossed electrified tracks at a busy station.
A stunned passenger at Latimer Road station called for help using a mobile phone after spotting the uniformed schoolchild wandering around the trackbed on Tuesday morning.
Rail union RMT, which has campaigned against job losses on the Tube, said the incident was a consequence of job cuts “leaving many stations unstaffed.”
London Underground (LU) said Latimer Road was not unstaffed at the time, with a member of staff manning the ticket gates.
The station safety breach came as bosses were accused of “bribing” white collar staff to cover overtime, as RMT is refusing to do the extra as part of its action short of a strike.
The union says Transport for London (TfL) is relying on overtime to mask the effect of thousands of job cuts.
Bosses appealed to TfL “ambassadors,” who shepherd passengers around stations, to work overtime for incentives of up to £250 per shift.
Now the union has escalated its industrial action, instructing members to not train or “familiarise” staff if they aren’t normally rostered to work at a given station from Thursday next week.
Station customer service managers are also instructed not to authorise any overtime.
“You just could not make it up,” RMT general secretary Mick Cash said.
“London Underground management paid severance packages to around 900 experienced station supervisors and ticket clerks and now they are offering unqualified admin staff and managers up to £250 a shift to avoid stations closing due to lack of staff.”
Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) leader Manuel Cortes, whose union has also voted for industrial action over station staffing levels, said the recruitment of ambassadors was “nothing more than a sly and underhand tactic to undermine staff’s refusal to work overtime.”
A briefing circulated among RMT members reports that 26 stations across the Tube network have been forced to close as a result of the overtime ban.
LU chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said: “We use travel ambassadors strategically to assist our customers during particularly busy times, such as large sporting events.”