By Daniel Hunter

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has confirmed that it is to ballot for strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over plans to rip up the safety rule book and begin the testing of driverless trains on London Underground (LU).

Initially, RMT will be balloting all members who are test train drivers but the union has also made it clear that it will be looking at which other grades may be called upon to test-drive units with a view to balloting those staff as well.

Back in July, RMT leaked an internal LU document which exposed a secret agenda to move the entire Jubilee Line to driverless operation within three years, trialed later this year - with the other deep level tube lines to follow - without even train captains on board, to run stations unstaffed and to close ticket offices the length of the line.

The document, called Deep Tube Railway — Generic Operations and Maintenance Concept — 2020 set out as one its core proposals:

“To produce an operating concept for a world class railway founded on unattended train operation”. Operating trains “without manual intervention”.
The proposed tests of the driverless trains are due to start imminently.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“RMT reiterates this union's complete opposition to driverless trains. Every train must have a driver, to ensure the safe and effective running of the Underground. Plans to scrap drivers or reduce their driving duties are risking safety, services and jobs and are motivated by saving money and undermining trade unionism.

“We will be campaigning for a massive yes vote in this ballot and with further packages of tube staffing and service cuts expected to be unveiled by the Mayor and TFL shortly RMT is on high alert to use every weapon in our armoury to resist attacks on our members and the safe running of the tube network.”

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