Tube hope despite strike

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The Independent Online

Labour Editor

London Underground management hopes to run three out of four services today despite a decision by leaders of 5,500 Tube staff to press ahead with a 24-hour strike.

The RMT transport union, however, predicted the stoppage would be solidly supported by its members and that disruption would be greater than anticipated by management.

Jimmy Knapp, leader of the RMT, said some stations in central London would close but conceded that in the wake of the decision to work normally by Aslef, the train drivers' union, there was no question of a complete shutdown. Aslef accepted a 3 per cent pay increase and the promise of a one-hour reduction in the working week but RMT said the changes would mean the widespread introduction of part-time workers.

Mr Knapp said London Underground's predictions about the number of services it would run was based on the experience of a day-long stoppage last year in which some RMT members defied the strike call. The RMT leader believes this time his members will support the action.

"We remain willing to resume negotiations at any time but until now we have been regaled with a monologue about what the company wants. They appear unwilling to listen to our objections," Mr Knapp said. He believed the company's plans could lead to employees being forced to become part- timers.

A London Underground spokesman insisted management were themselves subjected to a monologue by the RMT and that they had agreed to a meeting under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas. "We are still waiting for a response from RMT," the spokesman said.

There was no question of forcing present employees to work part-time. A total of 190 RMT station staff already worked part-time and train crews had told management they would welcome the option of working fewer hours.