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Put public interest and safe public transport first, says TUSC

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC http://www.tusc.org.uk/) today accuses Boris Johnson of “playing politics with public safety”. Bojo’s latest media outburst recycles tired old rhetoric about driverless trains on London’s Underground network.

Certain tube lines already have the capability to run in ‘automatic mode’, but trained and dedicated train drivers on the front of every London Underground train have demonstrated they are the best value insurance for Tube users when it comes to delivering safety and reassurance to the travelling public. Bojo’s latest bombastic announcements about ‘automation’ are uncosted, unaffordable and expose the Tories’ real agenda of playing ‘dog-whistle politics’ by bashing trade unions in the run-up to the 2012 Mayoral election.

The real issues facing Londoners are public safety, the escalating costs of public transport as a result of the calamitous Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and the importance of proper staffing levels and working conditions on London’s public transport system.

Responding to Boris Johnson’s claim to be able introduce driverless trains on London Underground, Alex Gordon, RMT National President and lead candidate for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (1) London Assembly List said:

‘Johnson is simply misleading the public in an attempt top get the Tory union-bashing vote out. A system of driverless trains across London ‘s deep-level tube system is unaffordable and an example of playing politics with public safety. (2)’

‘What Londoners want is a fully-funded, publicly-owned and accountable, properly staffed public transport network. Londoners and visitors to London alike need access to staff at booking offices and in stations. The machine hasn’t been invented that can explain to members of the public the complexities of our public transport system. Tube workers offer advice, assistance, and perform safety-critical evacuations in cases of emergency. During the July 2005 bombings on the Tube, London Underground staff led the public to safety across the entire public transport system in 15 minutes while the BBC was still reporting a ‘power surge’ causing delays on the Tube.

Instead of a properly-staffed, safe and efficient Tube system, Johnson is focused on banning Transport for London staff from taking annual leave over the school holidays (3) in order the subsidise the corporate shindig that will be taking place at the Olympics’

Steve Hedley, RMT’s London Transport Regional Organiser who is also standing as a candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the GLA elections in May, added: “TUSC fully supports the tube unions who are defending the working conditions of their members across London’s transport system and ensuring the safety of the travelling public. When RMT exposed Johnson’s leaked plans for driverless trains last year, London Underground claimed it was ‘blue-sky thinking’. Bojo’s comments confirm he is using London Underground as a pawn in his re-election campaign”.


For more Will McMahon 07968 950 223

Notes for editors

(1) The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition stands in opposition to public spending cuts and privatisation, calls for investment in public services and public ownership and control of the major utilities, the repeal of the anti-trade union laws. For more information see: http://www.tusc.org.uk/

In London TUSC is standing only in the London-wide list section for the London Assembly Elections. It is not contesting for mayor or in the constituency section.

(2) See http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2011/01/boris-driverless-nonsense/

(3) See RMT to ballot for action on TFL over Olympics ban on staff leave and declares dispute with London Underground over Olympics