Tube strike: Three-day London Underground strike suspended

Tube workers were due to walk out from 21:00 BST on Monday for 72 hours Tube workers were due to walk out from 21:00 BST on Monday for 72 hours

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A three-day strike by London Underground (LU) workers which had been due to start on Monday evening has been suspended, the RMT union has said.

The dispute was over LU's plan to close all ticket offices and cut 960 jobs.

The RMT's acting general secretary Mick Cash said they had secured "real movement and significant progress".

London Mayor Boris Johnson said the suspension of the strike was a "victory for common sense and for Londoners".

LU and the RMT met hours before the walkout was due to start at 21:00 BST.

A 48-hour strike last week caused considerable transport disruption.

LU Chief Operating Officer Phil Hufton said he was "pleased" commuters would not have to face a three-day Tube strike this week

Mr Cash said that due to the "solidarity and determination of our LU members" they had been able to make progress on "the issues at the heart of this dispute in talks with the Tube management over the bank holiday weekend".

He added: "Pre-conditions have been removed, protection of earnings has been agreed and we now have a viable framework for a proper review of the cuts and closures programme."

Analysis

The decision by the RMT to suspend this strike means a battle has been avoided but the war over ticket office closures is not over.

Both sides have come away with something though.

The RMT says it has won guarantees about pay for station staff whose jobs would change, and welcomes what it calls a "viable framework" for reviewing London Underground's plans.

But that review was already under way and London Underground is pleased that the RMT will now take part in it, insisting that the plan to close ticket offices and redeploy counter staff to station concourses will go ahead.

The review is due to be completed on 23 May and then the two sides will go back to ACAS for further talks. Only then will we find out whether this truce can be extended.

'Tactics aren't working'

LU Chief Operating Officer Phil Hufton said he was "pleased that Londoners will not have to endure further strike action this week".

Mr Hufton added: "Modernisation of the Tube means that it is our intention to close all ticket offices, used in less than 3% of journeys, and instead deliver a vastly better customer service by bringing more staff than ever before out on to the concourses of stations at ticket machines, ticket gates and platforms - just as we delivered during the London 2012 Games.

"This will also allow us to save £50m per annum to reinvest in better and more reliable train services and to keep fares down."

London mayor Mr Johnson said the RMT leadership had "finally seen that their tactics aren't working".

He added: "I always said these strikes were pointless, and by getting so many people to work during last week's stoppage Transport for London has shown the RMT that its actions, supported by a minority of its members, will achieve nothing."

A Routemaster bus outside Victoria station Vintage buses were brought back into use during last week's strikes to supplement services

During last week's 48-hour Tube strike, which began at 21:00 BST on Monday, Transport for London said 50% of services were running on Tuesday, while 52% of services ran on Wednesday.

LU said it managed to operate some level of service on all 11 lines on Wednesday, while extra bus services were in operation.

RMT's Mick Cash: "We've got some clear understandings from London underground about how we're going to move forward"

According to LU, the form of words agreed at conciliation service Acas, which led to the suspension of the strike, are as follows:

  • The station-by-station review will continue with all the trade unions invited to participate and contribute, additionally the proposed FftF-S implementation plan will also be reviewed. This exercise should be completed by 23 May. During this period of discussion LU would continue to keep on hold all VS [voluntary severance] applications.
  • The outcome of the exercise will be discussed at a meeting chaired by Acas
  • LU would enter into further detailed discussions to ensure that any employees identified as in scope of the Fit for the Future - Stations proposals on 21 November 2013, and who do not choose to leave the business under voluntary severance, would be offered a role that involves no reduction in their current substantive salary. This arrangement would be specific to the Fit for the Future - Stations programme.

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