LONDON, April 27 Millions of commuters face
transport chaos this week as workers on the London Underground
rail network hold a two-day strike in a dispute over planned job
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union
(RMT) will stage a 48-hour walkout beginning on the evening of
April 28 after talks aimed at resolving the row over plans to
close manned ticket offices broke down earlier this month.
A similar strike in February brought the network, used by
some three million people most days, to a virtual standstill.
A second walkout was averted to allow the talks to take
place. Another three-day strike has been called from May 5.
The strike action follows the March 11 death of RMT leader
Bob Crow, whose success in extracting concessions from employers
through hard talk and industrial disruption has set the mould
for those vying to replace him, trade union experts say.
Transport for London (TfL), which argues that less than
three percent of journeys on the 151-year-old tube network now
involve passengers using ticket offices, has said it will run a
limited service on some lines, with some stations closed. Extra
bus and river boat services will also be added.
"A lot of people are going to be late," said 25-year-old
architect Stefan Wilson, who is able to walk to work in the City
of London from his home in Wapping.
"If you work in an office job it will have less impact. It
is going to be worst for people like nurses who cannot do their
job from home."
TfL says its modernisation plans, including cutting 953
station jobs, can be achieved without compulsory redundancies or
any loss of pay to workers and with the promise stations would
remain staffed at all times.
The union says the cuts risk safety and would damage quality
of service, and has blamed rail management for the failure of
eight weeks of talks. It said it hoped the strikes would lead
them to engage in "meaningful and serious talks".
A TfL spokesman on Sunday said it hoped to hold last-minute
talks with the RMT on Monday aimed at averting the walkout.
British Prime Minister David Cameron last week called the
strike "unjustified and unacceptable", saying it would hit
millions of families and cause chaos for businesses.
Business lobbies have said previous tube strikes have cost
London's economy up to 50 million pounds ($84 million) a day.
($1 = 0.5948 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Lynne O'Donnell)