So, in a fit of alarming common sense the 2012 Olympic crowd think it will be a good idea to have volunteers working at Tube Stations across London to help point the lost masses in the right direction. This, somewhat obviously, is a good move. It'd be a better move if they found volunteers who spoke additional languages to just English, but this is London, so they'd probably just refuse to speak anything else anyway. But it's still a good idea none the less. After all, every Londoner knows that tourists are a monolithic pain in the arse at the best of times, and that for reasons known only to themselves, the rest of the world seems to think that blocking an escalator, ticket barrier, or doorway to read a map in the middle of rush hour is a display of abject genius. So having someone standing under a big sign miles away from an escalator saying 'Tourist Info' is a big win. It'll be like Moths to a flame.
Unless of course you're Bob Crow and the RMT. They apparently think it's an enormous safety risk for anyone other than their highly trained staff to even speak in a tube station, let alone go so far as to offer to help someone. But then these are the same people who think that crowding London's roads with cars, and delaying the emergency services by going on strike is an acceptable means of promoting safety. Interesting concept isn't it. Incidentally, here's a much better blog post about what happens to the emergency services when LU decides to call a unilateral public holiday: Nee Naw Ambulance Service Blog
Of course what the RMT are really worried about here though isn't passenger safety, it never has been, otherwise the Nee Naw blog link wouldn't exist. They're worried that by allowing volunteers to help people by providing directions and info people will come to expect something that passes for useful information on the tube. That means that standards will be raised to an alarmingly mediocre level, and the general public will be presented with the reality of just how replaceable the majority of staff are on the Underground.
They're worried that when untrained volunteers turn out to be more useful than their "highly trained" staff, that people will realise that perhaps paying for people to stand next to a ticket barrier all day ignoring passengers isn't really an acceptable use of public money. And that the services they do offer could essentially be performed by a 4 year old with rudimentary reading and writing skills, and the ability to formulate something not entirely dissimilar to a sentence.
They're worried that when people realise that LU staff are essentially getting paid decent sums of money and offering us little more than 3rd rate transport network famous across the globe for its over inflated prices and unreliability, and that they then spend half the year on strike that the last threads of sympathy and legitimacy for the RMT's 'arguments' will evaporate over night. And if that happens who'll stand up for Tube Drivers who get fired for endangering the lives of all their passengers by driving a train while drunk?
So bring on the volunteers, and help wave goodbye to the RMT and it's institutionalized delusions.