The RMT union has begun balloting members employed by Tube Lines, the body responsible for the maintenance and upgrade of the London Underground infrastructure, in a row over safety and pay.
The move follows Transport for London’s (TfL) £310m purchase of Tube Lines, which will become a wholly owned subsidiary of TfL. RMT general secretary Bob Crow claims assurances that staff will not be expected to pay off Tube Lines’ exit costs in the form of job losses, attacks on safe working conditions and an undermining of pay rates, had not been met.
“We have made it perfectly clear to Transport for London that we do not expect our members to take the hit for the final collapse of the disastrous tube privatisation experiment,” Crow said. “Those responsible for the fiasco have creamed off vast amounts of Londoners’ cash in profits and are even getting a further £310m ‘golden goodbye’ pay-off in what is a reward for failure on a massive scale.
“RMT remains available for talks and we repeat our call for a clear sign that TfL is taking seriously our perfectly reasonable request for assurances that lift the axe from over the heads of the Tube Lines workforce,” he added.
In a statement, Tube Lines said it was “disappointed” by the RMT’s decision, and said it was “working hard to provide clarity around the arrangements for the sale of Tube Lines shares.
A TfL spokesman told Personnel Today: “This is a matter for Tube Lines and the RMT to resolve. It’s not our jurisdiction. Tube Lines is still a privately owned company until the end of June. It’s a long and ongoing dispute and nothing to do with the transfer.”
The ballot for action will close on 1 June.
The RMT was forced to cancel plans for a strike by members at Network Rail earlier this year after a High Court injunction relating to discrepancies in the ballot.