TSSA general secretary candidate condemns government’s anti-safety measure
TSSA general secretary candidate Bonnie Craven has condemned about the government’s plan to close all the rail network’s 1000+ ticket offices in order to allow rail operators to increase profits. Ms Craven said that the ‘unsurprising’ plan will put passengers and staff at risk for the sake of padding corporate profits:
Yesterday we became aware of plans by train operating companies to close ticket offices, with some to happen as soon as this Christmas.
Frankly the proposals, put forward by the Rail Delivery Group (ROG) on behalf of the train operating companies are unsurprising.
Since privatisation, our railways (particularly the Train Operating Companies) have been run in the interests of the profiteers, not the passengers.
The first legal responsibility of any private company is to provide profit for it’s shareholders. The simplest way to maximise this is to spend less on running the business, and usually this means cutting staffing or staff pay to the bone. This same strategy has been followed by the privateers in all of our public services: rail, mail, utilities, education and of course our NHS.
Proposals to close ticket offices are simply about cutting the staffing bills at these private companies, to maximise profit for the shareholders. They run contrary to the provision of an essential public service.
Ticket office staff provide an invaluable service to passengers. They can advise on best routes and ticket deals. They support disabled passengers enabling them to access our railways. They provide a visible presence for passengers, making rail travel safer, especially for women or vulnerable passengers.
Six years ago I entered negotiations with a train operating company who were seeking to move ticket office staff onto the concourse and have them use tablets to sell tickets. I successfully argued against this for the following reasons:
• Staff safety
• Suitability of equipment, DSE regulations and risk of RSls for staff
• Staff preparedness or ability to work outside of the ticket office
• Passenger safety
I insisted that the TOC [train operating companies] undertook individual risk assessments, looked at the equalities impact, and evidenced that a number of their current ticket office staff had been displaced to this role due to a disability, as a reasonable adjustment. Ticket Office staff were, as a result, provided with equipment to use within the ticket office.
Even then it was clear that moving staff out of ticket offices would likely ultimately lead to a reduction of staff at our stations – understaffing is obvious when there are closed windows, less so when passengers need to wander around to find a member of staff. There are also concerns for our members with regards to the threats they face from lone working outside of a place of safety.
Bonnie Craven, a stalwart left activist in the union and pro-NHS movement, was one of the TSSA women who helped expose and organise against the sexual harassment, misogyny and bullying by TSSA’s former management. At the request of colleagues and members, she launched her bid to become the union’s new general secretary this week in a video pledging to build up the union and ensure that all its staff are valued and respected.
The government has begun a three-week consultation on its closure plan. Have your say here.
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