20 Days Remaining

Wednesday 20th
posted by Will Stone in Britain

ACTION to fix Tube staffing issues must be taken “today, not tomorrow” to prevent another Parsons Green terror attack, rail unions told the Star.

Tube union TSSA organiser Ben Stevenson revealed yesterday that Transport for London (TfL) has invited all four transport unions — TSSA, RMT, Aslef and Unite — to a meeting on security in November.

But the union’s London Underground (LU) rep said: “We won’t wait until November until action happens. TSSA is wanting action right now: today, not tomorrow.”

Mr Stevenson accused TfL’s employee relations and human resources representatives of hijacking the last quarterly transport strategy meeting on September 6, preventing the union from raising any of its issues.

Unions have been told that the next quarterly meeting, held with the mayor of London, in November will be about security instead of strategy.

“We are disappointed that previous meetings have been taken over by TfL, so we don’t want this security meeting in November to end up like that,” Mr Stevenson cautioned.

He said the union will be talking to people in the community, Labour politicians including London Assembly members and councillors, TfL, LU, members and staff over Tube staffing and security.

Police have been granted more time to question the two arrested men, an 18-year-old and 21-year-old Yahyah Farroukh, suspected of carrying out the attack that left 30 injured at Parsons Green station last week.

As reported in the Star, the station was manned by just one person on the day of the attack and often has no staff at all.

Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “London Underground is using delay to evade the real issues, which are stations with no staff, ticket-office closures and remote security by CCTV.

“All are useless when a bomb goes off. In those tragic circumstances, the public wants to see a real person, and it’s often our members, real people, who are first on the scene to offer support.”

Many of the injuries at Parsons Green were caused during an “uncontrolled evacuation” as passengers panicked to get out of the station.

Aslef’s LU organiser Finn Brennan said: “It is cheap and easy for managers and the government to call public-sector workers ‘heroes.’ But they cannot be heroic if cuts mean that they have been made redundant.

“As well as staffing levels, our members are deeply concerned about the poor quality of information to drivers during security incidents, the slow progress on making driving cabs more secure and the poor quality of safety briefings to staff.

“We have repeatedly raised these issues with LU and the mayor’s office. It’s time for them to start treating staff concerns seriously.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “There should be no delay and no compromise on safety and security and the staffing and resources needed to deliver it.”

TfL had not responded to requests for comment as the Star went to press.

Mr Stevenson told the Star that during a TSSA visit to neigbouring West Brompton station, union officials found the barriers had been left open.

He said: “There was probably only one member of staff who had gone to the toilet and so must leave the barriers open.

“This clearly demonstrates the security issues at the stations and how much money London Underground are losing by not employing enough staff.”