Crow quits in strike row with mayor

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The Independent Online

The leader of the country's biggest rail workers' union yesterday resigned from the board of Transport for London after a row with the Mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, criticised comments by Mr Livingstone about a pay dispute, which will lead to a 24-hour Tube strike next week.

Last-ditch talks aimed at averting Tuesday's strike will be held on Monday. But Mr Crow said he had "no confidence whatsoever" in the London Underground managers who had been involved in negotiations and called for the Mayor and his transport commissioner, Bob Kiley, to get personally involved.

Mr Livingstone said on Thursday that if he was a member of the RMT he would cross picket lines and he described a pay and hours offer to the union as "extremely generous".

Yesterday Mr Crow said: "I was brought up according to Labour movement principles and to believe that the 11th commandment is 'Thou shalt not cross a picket line'.

"To say I was shocked, saddened and disappointed to hear Mr Livingstone yesterday call on RMT members to cross their own union's picket lines would be a massive understatement.

"The Mayor should know that the way to settle disputes is not to attempt to break strikes but to negotiate, and that is what he should be getting his management to do," he said, adding he could "in all conscience" no longer sit on the Mayor's transport authority.

Mr Livingstone said the offer of a two-year pay deal worth 6.5 per cent and a pledge of achieving a 35-hour week should be accepted, but union officials said there were "major strings" attached. The union also fears job losses under the deal.