27 May 2023
RMT Press Office:
The Conservative leader in the London Assembly has been asked to distance himself from comments made by fellow Tory politician Tony Devenish.
Earlier this week Mr Devenish via Twitter made allegations against London Underground workers accusing them of 'skiving' and denied there were any staff shortages, despite evidence to the contrary.
In a letter to Neil Garratt - Conservative Leader London Assembly, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch writes: "I’m writing to you in your capacity as leader of the London Assembly Conservative Group further to comments on Twitter by one of your members, Tony Devenish.
"Our members were described by the former Secretary of State for Transport as “true heroes” for their role in keeping public transport moving during the Covid pandemic.
"Referring to London Underground yesterday Mr Devenish took to Twitter to allege that 'Skiving is Skiving. There are no staff shortages.' For a member of the London Assembly to accuse public transport workers who keep our capital moving today and during Covid of being “skivers” is reprehensible and has, understandably, caused considerable hurt and anger amongst my members.
"I would therefore be grateful for your urgent confirmation that Mr Devenish is not speaking for the Conservative Group when he says this and that assume you will instruct him to retract this statement and issue an apology.
"For your information, the facts on the on the ground at London Underground are as follows:
"London Underground has deleted 600 station staff posts from its staffing complement. As you will know that is a significant percentage of LU’s station staff.
"This has left London Underground with insufficient staff to maintain all its stations with the level of staffing required under LU’s safety agreements.
"As a result, LU managers have been left with the choice of leaving stations open with no staff or closing them. This is causing frustration for many passengers.
"Violence against my members on the Underground is rising. In the fourth Quarter of 2022/23, there were 1,316 incidents of Workplace Violence or Aggression reported against LU staff, 47% of the total in TfL and up on the previous quarter.
"On Sunday 21st May, one of my members was knocked unconscious and suffered a bleed on the brain and a fractured skull after an assault at Harrow-on-the-Hill which British Transport Police described as an “appalling and unprovoked act of violence on a member of staff simply doing their job”. This week there was a further serious assault on one of my members at Baker Street station.
"The truth is that the cuts forced on TfL by the government as conditions of emergency funding to cover the impact of the pandemic, have resulted in a spiral of understaffing, growing frustration and violence toward our members.
"I look forward to your response on behalf of the Conservative Group."