Commuters struggle as London Tube workers go on strike

PTI London | Updated on April 29, 2014 Published on April 29, 2014

Commuters in London faced severe hardship as workers operating the city’s Tube network began their 48-hour strike today to protest the government’s plan to close all ticket offices, costing nearly 1,000 jobs.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) Union walked out for 48 hours at 8:00 pm last night over plans to close all ticket offices.

Transport for London said it hoped to run between 40-50 per cent of services.

There were almost 8,000 buses on the roads — the most ever operated in London — after an extra 266 were put into service.

The union and London Underground (LU) have met more than 40 times through the arbitration service Acas since the last 48-hour strike in February, but last-minute talks broke down yesterday.

“They’re looking to make 15 million pounds worth of cuts and to do that they want to get rid of every single booking office and a 1,000 jobs,” Mike Cash, acting general secretary of the RMT union, told BBC Radio 4.

“Now we took industrial action in February this year and we suspended it following a deal done with our former general secretary, Bob Crow, where they had promised to review every single station,” Cash said.

“And there are over 200 stations and do you know what we’ve done is five,” he added.

But the managing director of London Underground, Mike Brown, said: “We agreed that we would start by looking at the different station types, which group into five different types, and we’d look at those first.”

“And now we’re in the midst of doing the full station by station review starting with the Piccadilly Line. So I’m afraid what you’ve heard from Mick Cash is nonsense,” Brown said.

“The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also criticised the strikes and suggested the plans will go ahead.”

“We’re going to close 260 ticket offices, we’re going to change the way they operate, we’re going to make them available for other functions, we’re going to do fantastic things with our stations, but there’s always room to discuss about the terms and conditions of our employees,” he said.

Meanwhile, unless a deal is struck, a second 72-hour strike is planned for the same time next week which is expected to cause further chaos on London’s transport network.

Published on April 29, 2014
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