We've been having a good chuckle here at Tubeworker HQ at this latest wheeze from LU Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths (he of "I don't care what you think about health and safety" fame - see here).
A BBC article on our latest strike, which quotes Steve blustering in disbelief that a union, during a dispute about jobs, would demand... more jobs. Or, as the article puts it, "the hiring of 'even more staff'" (yes folk, even more staff. The sheer insane utopian temerity of it all!), implying that Steve somehow believes that the staffing level is so astronomically high already that demands to increase it are just patently ridiculous.
Well Steve, let us assure you: it isn't. Proposed new rosters for stations will see a massive increase in lone working, leading to a more stressful and dangerous environment for staff and passengers alike. We already know that the system is creaking on Fleet and Engineering, where the OT ban has exposed just how much maintenance work LU only manages to get done through overtime.
Have you even been on the Tube recently, Steve? To any Tube passengers reading this, we ask you to consider your own experience. How many times, at a busy station, have you needed assistance that we've been unable to offer because the handful of station workers in the ticket hall (including those who you could once at least have queued up to speak to at a ticket office window) are already completely inundated, or busy assisting disabled passengers or school parties? If you've ever had an experience like that you've probably already seen through LU's spin about their plans being about delivering "world class customer service", and seen them for what they are: an austerity-driven cuts project.
So yes, Steve, we are "demanding the hiring of 'even more staff'". Heaven forfend that a workers' organisation should demand the creation of well-paid, stable, public-sector jobs at a time of austerity.
But for the record, we don't want you to fund it through fare hikes. Our first choice for funding would be for central government to increase direct funding to TfL/LUL. But failing that, how about some different cuts closer to home? We could start with shaving a bit off the wage bill for senior management, or maybe cut a couple of those posts altogether. Maybe we could start with the COO.