(Updates with RMT confirmation)
LONDON Feb 11 A planned 48-hour strike this
week by staff on London's underground rail network which
threatened to bring travel misery for millions has been
suspended to allow further talks, unions said on Tuesday.
Similar action last week over threats to jobs from the
planned closure of manned ticket offices caused chaos on the
capital's roads and was condemned by Prime Minister David
Cameron as "shameful."
The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers union (RMT) and the
Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) said they had now
agreed to postpone their strike action following talks with
managers over modernisation plans.
"I'm pleased the action has been suspended and we have got
to where we can have negotiations without a gun pointed to our
head," Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary told Reuters.
The unions and London Underground bosses have been holding
talks at the conciliation service ACAS and Crow said they had
received proposals to halt proposed job cuts, which allowed them
to call off industrial action for the time being.
However, Crow warned that the strike could be re-instated if
further discussions failed.
"It is unfortunate that we were forced and provoked into a
dispute that we never wanted and we are now in a position to
move on with the clear understanding that our action is
suspended but if there is any further attempt to impose change
from above the action will go back on," he said.
Cameron said last week he unreservedly condemned the strike
and London mayor Boris Johnson has accused Crow of holding the
city to ransom over a stoppage he has called "completely
unnecessary and wrong."
Some three million people use the Tube system most days and
the strike last week led to long journeys for many commuters.
Those who avoided packed buses attempted to walk, run or cycle
to work through gale-force winds.
The London Chamber of Commerce said repeated strike action
could hurt London's image as a modern, efficient city and affect
long-term investment prospects.
It said that based on figures from previous strikes in 2010,
the two 48-hour stoppages could have cost Britain's financial
capital over 200 million pounds ($325 million).
"We welcome the news that the proposed industrial action has
been withdrawn," said John Woods, ACAS Deputy Chief Conciliator,
"We want to thank all the parties involved for their hard
work and commitment over 10 days of intensive talks."
(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison)