RMT (and TSSA) reps met London Underground management on Monday 21 March as part of the Equality review of the OSP (job cuts). Report from RMT Council of Executives member Janine Booth,
Following our previous meeting, management have now provided us with the formula they use to calculate staffing levels in the ticket office and the ticket hall. As well as generating inadequate staffing levels in general, neither properly accounts for the needs of passengers in equality groups eg. disabled, elderly, women, ethnic minority,etc.
The ticket office methodology is being discussed in depth by another strand of the review, so our discussion was concerned only with the equalities impacts. We were particularly concerned that LU takes no account of visits to the ticket office where the customer does not buy a ticket eg. they carry out a different kind of transaction, such as resolving a journey; or they ask for help eg. information for disabled passengers. We believe that members of equality groups need a ticket office to be available for these purposes, and their visits to the ticket office should not be overlooked.
The ticket hall methodology is a formula that counts the number of passengers passing through gates, and "weights" them according to whether their journeys are classed as commuter, leisure or tourist. This gives a "utilisation" figure, and a station is allocated one member of staff in the ticket hall for 2% utilisation; two for 40% utilisation; three for 80% utilisation and four for 120% utilisation. An additional 20% workload is factored in at ticket halls without a Wide Aisle Gate.
This formula generates staffing levels which are woefully inadequate, as staff in many stations are run off their feet. Regarding equality, we are particulatly concerned that the designations commuter, leisure or tourist take no account of certain journeys made by equality groups eg. Is a disabled person travelling to a hospital appointment a commuter, leisure or tourist journey?! The formula also takes no account of, for example, women being anxious about travelling through unstaffed or sparsely-staffed stations; it only accounts for the workload of staff (and does that inadequately) not for the benefits of the presence of staff.
LU claimed that this is taken into account by its stated policy that all stations are staffed throughout the traffic day. However, as we find ourselves repeatedly having to remind them, this is just not true - nearly one-third of stations are unstaffed at some point during the traffic day.
LU's data about the purpose of passengers' travel is put together by the Rolling Origin and Destination Survey (RODS). This involves passengers being handed a form asking them about their journey which they fill in while travelling then hand in. We pointed out that various equality groups would be less likely to fill in these forms and thus their needs would be under-represented in the data collected. Passengers would be less likely to fill in the form if, for example, English is not their first language, or are visually impaired, or have their hands full looking after young children during their journey.
We proposed the following steps:
1. The Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) to be updated for customers as well as for staff.
2. Management to report back on whether certain journeys relevant to equality groups eg. a disabled person travelling to a hospital appointment, are classified as commuter, leisure or tourist.
3. Management to report back on whether and how the Rolling Origin and Destination Survey (RODS) accounts for equalities groups and how data is adjusted to account for a lower rate of return of the survey by equalities groups, and to consider further adjustments if appropriate.
4. Management agree to revise the ticket hall methodology forumla to incorporate the special needs of equality group eg. by adding a factor for proximity to venues used by equality group eg. hospitals.
5. The ticket office methodology to pick up non-sales transactions, and non-transaction visits to the ticket office, as the current omission of these visits overlooks needs of particular groups eg. a mobility-impaired passenger enquiring at a ticket office whether his/her destination station has step-free access.
6. Management to provide further examples (in addition to King's Cross) of additional staff added through local consultation, and if this illustrates that this method is ineffective, to agree instead to incorporate this in the methodology formula.
We may make further proposals at future meetings.