Parts of Tube to close for months

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The Independent Online
COMMUTERS RECEIVED bad news on two fronts yesterday as London Underground said two of the busiest sections of its network are to close for two months in summer, while talks to avert a 48-hour strike on the system next week broke down.

Settlement of a dispute between the RMT union and management seemed unlikely and employees are to walk out from 10pm on Sunday to 10pm on Tuesday. While London Underground can operate a skeleton service, the disruption is expected to affect services before and after the walk-out.

It was also disclosed that part of the Circle line and part of the City branch of the Northern line will close for nine weeks for repairs. The Circle line will be suspended between Gloucester Road and High Street Kensington from 12 June to 23 August. The Northern line between Kennington and Moorgate will shut from 3 July to 5 September.

Bob Crow, RMT assistant secretary, said yesterday's talks with London Underground were a "charade". The union wants guarantees there will be no compulsory redundancies or changes in working practices when the system is partially privatised. Mr Crow said management had not been prepared to move on any issues but he was ready to meet London Underground before Sunday's walk-out. "We are not asking for a 10 per cent rise; we are asking for job security but they are not prepared to move."

Ann Burfutt, London Transport director of personnel, said she was confident of reaching agreement with other unions after assuring staff there were no plans to privatise key Tube operations. "The RMT knows we cannot give them the assurances they want." The union also demanded a four-day, 32- hour week, which was "totally unreasonable".