Tesco in our Tube?

According to articles in various publications and media outlets, including the BBC, companies like Waitrose, Tesco, and InPost are set to provide pick-up points for online orders in Tube stations, which London Underground bosses hope will soon be somewhat roomier, to the tune of nearly 1,000 staff and all the ticket offices.Tesco plans to provide collection points at Osterley, Newbury Park, Rayners Lane, Finchley Central, Arnos Grove, and Cockfosters. Waitrose will have facilities six stations.Talks with Amazon and Asda (both notoriously union-busting, anti-worker employers) are said to be “continuing”.

The idea of a Tube station where you can pick up your online shopping but can’t find a human member of staff to help you with your journey, your ticketing, or your access needs is quite grotesque. This is the kind of network LU bosses want, and that’s what HOLT is fighting against.

There’s also understandable concern that, what the pick-up points inevitably break down, the few Tube workers who are left staffing stations will become target for customers’ ire, meaning they’ll have to deal with complaints about Tesco, Amazon, Waitrose, and others — as well as complaints from passengers who can’t use LU’s ticket machines or who are frustrated about the lack of staff!

These plans make it clear that what’s at stake in this industrial and political fight is nothing short of two entirely counterposed and irreconcilable visions for public transport. Boris Johnson and LU bosses’ vision is of a network run almost entirely by machines, with the potentials for privateering and profit-making maximised, where the few human staff are forced into semi-casual working arrangements with poor pay and only statutory rights. On the other side is the vision that HOLT, RMT, TSSA, and others defend: a well-funded, publicly-owned, integrated public transport system, well staffed with visible, skilled workers working in well-paid, unionised jobs.

The fight is on!


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