The latest meeting of the Equalities strand of the OSP (job cuts) review, on Tuesday 1 March, revealed that London Underground does not consider the needs of equalities groups when calculating its station staffing levels. RMT secured agreement from LU to consider revising these calculations to include equalities considerations.
London Underground considers its passengers in three categories - commuters, leisure and tourist. It does not consider categories such as women/men, disabled, ethnic groups, young/old, LGBT etc. It is not clear whether, for example, a disabled person attending an appointment at a hospital is a tourist, commuter, or leisure traveller!
LU decides how many staff it needs on a station by using a formula to generate a Business Needs Schematic.
LU admitted that the formula does not include equality needs. The union argued that it should, for example, consider the proximity of the station to a venue frequently visited by equality groups eg. hospital, elderly people's facility, place of worship, etc. The examples we gave were Old Street (local station for Moorfields Eye Hospital) and King's Cross (local station for the Royal National Institute for Blind People), but we know that there are many more.
LU claimed that issues like this would be incorporated into a BNS after the formula had been applied, via consultation with local management, but were unable to provide evidence or examples of this. LU also claimed that training staff to assist passengers with special needs mitigated the effects of cutting staff. We replied that no amount of training could enable staff to be in more than one place at the same time when more than one passenger needed their help because there were not enough staff available.
The unions got LU management to agree to:
- provide evidence of local feedback affecting the BNS
- consider amending the formula to incorporate equalities issues eg. including proximity to venues used by equality groups
- tell the unions the BNS formula (despite frequent requests, it has not done so before, only giving some indications of factors involved, not the exact calculation)
LU management also admitted at the meeting that having written to various groups eg. disability organisations, and having received replies that expressed concerns about the cut in staffing levels, the company made no changes at all to its job-cutting plans as a result of the letters.