Revenue Control Inspectors (RCIs) have increasingly been working in full uniform, whereas many operations were previously undertaken in plain clothes. LU's aim is clear: by putting more uniformed staff on stations, they're attempting to mask the impact of their job cuts. It makes it more difficult for the RCIs to do their job.
There's a conversation we should have as a workforce about fares and revenue. Tubeworker believes public transport should be properly funded so fares could be massively reduced, or even made free. In such conditions there'd be a strong case for absorbing the RCI role into the general operational stations workforce. In the here-and-now, we're all for rich piss-takers who evade fares to the tunes of thousands being hauled over the coals, but we're less comfortable with working-class folk being slapped with £80 fines for trying to get around an increasingly expensive city on the cheap.
But whatever we think about the fares, revenue, and the politics of public transport, the way RCIs (a workforce which has suffered substantial cuts of its own down the years) are currently being used is a hypocritical sham. It's part of an attempt on the part of LU to pull the wool over passengers' eyes regarding the extent of frontline cuts, and means the company is hindering attempts to recoup lost fare revenue while claiming that budgetary concerns make cuts inevitable.