Crucial talks in bid to avert Tube strike

Crucial talks aimed at averting next week's strike by London Underground workers are to be held tomorrow, it was announced today.

Leaders of the Rail Maritime and Transport union will meet Transport for London and LU bosses in a bid to resolve a dispute over jobs and pay.

The news followed a plea earlier today by the union for Mayor Boris Johnson and senior London Underground bosses to "get out of the bunker" and open negotiations.

Union members are planning to walk out for 48 hours from Tuesday evening, causing massive problems for millions of commuters and visitors to the capital.

A TfL spokesman said: "We welcome the RMT's change of heart and readiness to return to the negotiating table. We've always made clear that we're ready to meet with the RMT any time, anywhere.

"We are already fixing up a meeting with the RMT and all our other unions, who are not in dispute with us and with whom we have been continuing to negotiate."

Boris Johnson said: "I am pleased that the RMT leadership have finally recognised the only way to resolve this dispute is to get round the negotiation table. The sooner this happens the better."

RMT leader Bob Crow said: "It's taken a while, but RMT are pleased that our efforts to smoke out the London Mayor and his senior managers have been successful and we can now get down to meaningful talks on the issues at the heart of this dispute.

"We hope that the Mayor, who was full of praise for his transport staff earlier this year when they struggled against the snow to try and keep London moving, will issue a clear mandate to his senior staff to lift the threat of pay cuts and compulsory redundancies and rebuild the industrial relations machinery on the Tube."