Tube bosses 'swan off' amid pay row

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The Independent Online

Union leaders today expressed "disbelief" at plans to fly London Underground managers to New York to advise on improving the city's subway system, warning it could affect a pay dispute.

New York's Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) will be charged up to 200 dollars an hour for each member of staff from Transport for London, under plans to be finalised later this week.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said today he will make sure his members were aware of the development as they prepare to vote in a ballot for industrial action in a row over pay.

"RMT will take no lectures from Tube and TfL bosses on pay restraint when a deal is being lined up that will net those same senior managers the equivalent of a thousand pounds a day plus expenses for jumping on a plane to New York.

"We will make sure our members know that the same senior TfL managers who have been attacking our campaign for a decent pay increase are queuing up to jet over to New York on 200 dollars an hour.

"These are also the same managers who presided over the Metronet fiasco and the financial chaos at TfL which has led to the scrapping of upgrades and renewal programmes and axing of key services."

The RMT and Unite unions have both rejected a "final offer" of a 1.5% pay rise this year and 0.5% next year. Unite is also preparing to ballot for action.

Mr Crow said the RMT will contact the New York transport unions "to make them aware of what they are getting for their money", adding: "If these people are as good as they are being cracked up to be then they should remain in London sorting out our problems not swanning across to New York."

A TfL spokesman said the plant was only at an "initial stage".

"We are in discussions with the MTA on a proposed co-operation agreement under which we might work together, at no cost to London's fare payers or tax payers, on areas of mutual interest.

"We will ensure that this arrangement financially benefits London, as well as providing New York with the benefit of London's experience in Oyster technology and the provision of customer information. The details have yet to be finalised."