London

Tube strike to go ahead after talks break down

London Underground (LU) staff will stage a 24-hour strike starting at 1830 GMT on Sunday after talks with managers broke down, the RMT union has said.

Members of the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) have staged three strikes in recent months over threats to cut about 800 jobs.

But the failure to reach a deal leaves the prospect of widespread disruption on the Tube network on Monday.

Transport for London (TfL) said the unions had "scuppered" the talks.

The row centres on the future of 800 employees in ticket offices at Underground stations.

Managers say fewer staff are needed at counters because of the widespread use of Oyster swipe cards.

'Muggers' paradise'

But the RMT's general secretary, Bob Crow, said passengers' safety could be jeopardised if there were not as many employees available at stations, which would be turned "into a muggers' and vandals' paradise".

"It is incredible that LU management would not agree to a 12-week suspension of the cuts to allow a thorough safety evaluation on the impact on each station of their cuts plans.

"That shows complete and utter contempt for the safety of both their passengers and their staff."

Mr Crow said that "LU and TfL might want to gamble on tube safety, but RMT and TSSA will not".

The TSSA listed 10 incidents when Tube trains allegedly stopped at closed stations during previous strikes and let passengers "wander off" before the driver realised doors should not have been opened.

It claimed on 4 October that 40 passengers found themselves locked in Canada Water station after leaving a train which should not have stopped.

General secretary Gerry Doherty said: "We are very concerned about the safety implications of passengers being left stranded at locked and unmanned stations."

The two sides met at the conciliation service, Acas, this week to avert a walkout.

Image caption Large queues formed at bus stops during the last Tube strike

But Transport for London (TfL) claimed the unions walked away from an offer of a further six weeks to review staffing plans.

Howard Collins, London Underground's chief operating officer, said: "The leaders of the TSSA and RMT have demonstrated once again that their only interest is in disrupting Londoners - despite the fact that over half of the post reductions have already been achieved through voluntary redundancy and natural wastage.

"If they are serious about resolving this issue, they should call off their totally unnecessary strike immediately.

"We want an end to this dispute and believe that a resolution will be only achieved through talks, not by further threats to disrupt London."

'Will not be beaten'

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "I feel sure that the defiance and contempt Londoners have shown for the previous futile strike action will be evident once more.

"We are determined to keep the capital moving by all means available to us. London will not be beaten."

Katja Hall, CBI director of employment policy, said: "It is disappointing this dispute could not be resolved at Acas.

"In this case, just 33% of balloted members supported the strike, only 17% of the total London Underground workforce."

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