Transport for London has found a new benefit to the Olympic legacy – it is drafting in trained volunteers from its back offices to man the stations as “ambassadors” during next month’s strikes.
Around 1,000 TfL staff, from accountants to former drivers, have offered to lend a hand to passengers during the RMT walkouts on 4-5 and 11-12 February.
Volunteers working beyond the ticket barriers, such as on the platforms, will be fully trained, a spokesperson said.
TfL perhaps hopes to evoke the spirit of the Games by referring to the staff as “ambassadors”, the name that was used when Tube staff volunteered during the Olympics in distinctive magenta tabards.
At the end of 2012, TfL said it hoped to continue using the 3,000 staff who volunteered as ambassadors “to provide improved assistance to passengers in future, for example at big sporting events” - a tug-of-war with Bob Crow presumably counting as such an event.
“[S]hould a strike go ahead, we’re determined to keep London moving and open for business and our TfL Ambassadors will play an important role. All a strike will achieve is lose those who take part four days’ pay,” said Phil Hufton, chief operating officer at London Underground.
The RMT is holding several strikes and “revenue actions”, where staff will be instructed to not charge passengers, in protest at TfL’s plans to close ticket offices and run certain Tube lines through the night at weekends.
“The idea that a scab army of volunteers can replace the work of thousands of engineers, drivers, technical and station staff is dangerous nonsense and senior LU officials know that,” said Crow in response.