London underground rail union to hold five days of strikes

Thu Apr 17, 2014 10:18am EDT

Related Topics

* RMT announces dates of April 28-30, May 5-8

* Cites job cuts, ticket office closures

LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) - Workers on the London Underground rail network are to stage five days of strikes beginning at the end of the month after talks with management over planned job losses were "wrecked", their union said on Thursday.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union (RMT) will stage a 48-hour walkout beginning on the evening of April 28 and a three-day strike starting on May 5.

Staff have also been instructed not to work any rest days or overtime from April 29, the union said.

"The talks aimed at resolving the dispute on London Underground over the savage cuts to jobs, services and safety have been cynically wrecked by a tube management who not only refused to budge an inch but who have chosen to up the ante," said RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash.

The RMT said management had refused to back down from plans to cut 953 station jobs and close all ticket offices.

Transport for London (TfL) urged the RMT to return to talks, saying its plans could be achieved without compulsory redundancies, no loss of pay to workers, and with a promise that stations would remain staffed at all times.

It argues that less than three percent of journeys now involve passengers using ticket offices.

"Over the past eight weeks, we have met with our trades union colleagues on over 40 occasions, listening to their concerns and making significant changes as a result," said Phil Hufton, London Underground's Chief Operating Officer.

"I urge the RMT to join us, rather than threaten further unnecessary disruption to Londoners. All a strike will achieve is lose those who take part pay for each day of action."

A 48-hour RMT strike in February brought the network to a virtual standstill and caused travel misery for millions of commuters, but a second walkout was averted to allow more talks to take place.

At the time, Bob Crow, the former RMT leader who died in March, told Reuters transport bosses had put forward proposals to halt job cuts which had paved the way for more discussions.

"Staff are furious that while senior management pay and staffing levels are being allowed to roar ahead, the jobs and pay of the core, station-based staff who are the interface with the travelling public are being torn to ribbons," Cash said in a statement.

"The assurances that were given at the time RMT suspended the original action for a proper evaluation of the cuts plans have been ripped up and thrown back in our faces."

Some three million people use the Tube system most days and the February strike led to long journeys for many commuters while the London Chamber of Commerce said the action dented London's image as a modern, efficient city and could cost Britain's financial capital millions of pounds.

The RMT also announced there would be a "massive demonstration" in honour of Crow and veteran British left-wing politician Tony Benn, who died last month, on May 1. (Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)

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