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29.04.14

Tube strikes go ahead as talks break down

Tube staff have started a 48-hour long strike after talks broke down between London Underground (LU) and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union over cuts to ticket offices and jobs. 

Acas had been chairing conciliation talks between the parties over the potential closures and 960 job losses, which had been proposed as part of LU’s modernisation plans. 

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “LU have dug themselves into an entrenched position and have refused to move one inch from their stance of closing every ticket office, in breach of the agreement reached previously through Acas which enabled us to suspend the previous round of action. 

“The current plans, closing every ticket office and axing nearly a thousand safety-critical jobs, is solely about massive austerity cuts driven centrally by David Cameron and his government and implemented by Mayor Boris Johnson.” However, LU stated that safety and security will never be compromised.  

The industrial action started at 9pm yesterday evening and further action will take place from 9pm on 5 May for three days, unless an agreement can be reached. Acas, which has overseen 40 meeting between the RMT and LU since the last 48-hour strike in February, said its “services remain available” to both parties. 

Last week, TfL stated that during the industrial action “where it can operate services, it will do so”.  It has also issued a document of travel advice to customers. 

During the strike, the following services are expected to run less frequently and with some stations excluded: 

  • Bakerloo Line: Service operating between Queen's Park and Elephant & Castle, approximately every 5 minutes. No service on the rest of the line due to strike action.
  • Central Line: Service operating between White City and Ealing Broadway, between West Ruislip and North Acton, between Epping and Leytonstone and between Hainault and Marble Arch only. No service on the rest of the line.
  • Circle Line: No service due to strike action. Use the District and Hammersmith & City lines (where available) instead.
  • District Line: Train service operating between Ealing Broadway and High Street Kensington and between Wimbledon and Upminster. No service on the rest of the line due to strike action.
  • Hammersmith and City Line: Service operating between Hammersmith and Moorgate / Aldgate and between Edgware Road and Barking.
  • Jubilee Line: Service operating between Wembley Park and Stratford only, approximately every 10 minutes. No service on the rest of the line.
  • Metropolitan Line: Service operating between Uxbridge and Harrow-on-the-Hill and between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate only. No service on the rest of the line due to strike action.
  • Piccadilly Line: Service operating between Hammersmith and Heathrow Airport, approximately every 20 minutes. No service on the rest of the line due to strike action.
  • Victoria Line: Service operating between Blackhorse Road and Brixton approximately every 4 minutes with some stations closed.
  • Waterloo & City Line: No service due to strike action. 

Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: “Thousands of staff and volunteers are working hard this morning to keep London working and our customers informed in the face of this pointless strike. More LU staff have come to work this morning than during the strike back in February, and a record number of London buses are operating. 

"Under our plans, fairness to our staff is guaranteed.  There will be no compulsory redundancies, there is a job for all staff wanting to remain with us and no one will lose pay.  We have made significant changes to our original proposals after listening to staff and unions in over 40 meetings, including agreeing that supervisors will not need to ‘reapply for their jobs’.” 

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, called the strike "pointless". He added that More than 600 people have asked for voluntary redundancy and yet, without consulting any of their own members, the RMT is suddenly insisting that LU halt this process. 

He added: “Commuters and businesses will suffer because a few narrow-minded union barons are currently flexing their muscles in a fight for the leadership of a union where just 30% of members support a strike.” 

But RMT’s Mick Cash said: “If LU had agreed a full and proper public consultation, involving everyone with a stake in the future of a tube network facing surging demand and growing pressures, and agreed to halt the implementation of the cuts, RMT was prepared to recommend suspending the action. 

“We believe that this was a sensible and productive way to proceed but it has been rejected wholesale by tube managers who seem hell-bent on confrontation.” 

Mike Brown added that his message to the leadership of the RMT is that LU will not be diverted from doing the right thing by its customers and staff. “They should call the strike off and instead work with us to help shape the future of the Tube,” he said. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

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