“It is absolutely vital that we support our transport staff on pickets in the coming weeks. It is no coincidence that the Tories are currently legislating to force transport unions to maintain a minimum service level during industrial action.”Apsana Begum MP
By Apsana Begum MP
As a part of a National Day of Action, it was privilege to join RMT at their rally (Thursday 13 July) against Ticket Office cuts recently announced.
These proposed closures will make life hard for everyone. They are not in the interests of staff and not in the interests of passengers.
In particular, I am deeply worried about the impact of all those who rely on the support and advice provided by staff in ticket offices. What will this mean for elderly and disabled people and those who struggle to use the internet and book tickets online?
For many it can be slow and difficult to use machines. Indeed, we know that only 3% of people with sight loss said they could use a ticket vending machine without problems and 58% said it was impossible.
Taking away the safety and accessibility of public transport from people who rely on it is just unacceptable.
It is obvious that this will also lead to further destaffing – making many stations increasingly unsafe.
We know that the announcements of ticket office closures are just the latest in an ongoing assault on our transport system.
According to the RMT, these closures represent “the wholescale de-staffing of stations”, including safety critical train dispatch and passenger assistance. They note that the planned closures mean there will be no regulations on staffing levels at stations, and train operators will be free to staff or de-staff any station to whatever level they choose.
Yet our transport workers are key to the service overall. They served us during the pandemic heroically at great personal cost.
Staff in ticket offices are a skilled set of employees and are able to guide the customer through the complex system of varied ticket prices, routes, and updates of service. They are also there on the spot to report an issue to or to turn to for help in an emergency.
So, in order to ensure that the rail companies and the Government understand how much rail passengers value their ticket offices and staff, it is important that everyone takes part in the consultation.
And it is absolutely vital that we support our transport staff on pickets in the coming weeks. It is no coincidence that the Tories are currently legislating to force transport unions to maintain a minimum service level during industrial action – in a fundamental draconian attempt to clamp down on the fundamental human right to strike.
At the same time, instead of taking our rail into public ownership, which is overwhelming supported by the general public, the Tories are choosing to prop up the profits of private rail operator. So, it is a “no” austerity cuts to public transport, “no” to mismanagement, “no” to attacks on workers and trade union rights.
Because those taking industrial action are not only standing up against exploitation and poor conditions, they are ultimately standing up for the service and all of us.
- Apsana Begum is the MP for Poplar and Limehouse and a regular contributor to Labour Outlook. You can follow Apsana on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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