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Tube drivers vote for action

London Underground drivers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a row over safety, it was announced today.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union said its members backed action short of a strike by 4-1 in a series of disputes, including proposed new procedures for reversing a Tube train.

LU said its changes had no impact on the system's "high" safety standards.

The union also claimed that drivers would also have to "self dispatch" trains because of cuts in the number of platform staff.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "RMT has demanded an end to the reckless policy of expecting drivers to over-ride door fail-safe systems after a potentially fatal incident in which a passenger jumped from a moving train and another was caught in its open doors.

"Despite that the 'sensitive edge' procedures, along with a whole bunch of other unsafe procedures, are being bulldozed through in the dash for cuts, and to cover up the impact of reductions in station staff, under the guise of operational effectiveness.

"It is our members who have to deal with the consequences of these ill-conceived policies. We have tried to get LU to see sense, but they have continued to put cash and job cuts ahead of passenger safety and we had no choice but to ballot for action to put a stop to these dangerous proposals being imposed without agreement.

"We now have an overwhelming vote for action and it falls to LU to pull back and start talking."

Howard Collins, London Underground's chief operating officer, said: "The fact that 70% of those balloted by the RMT chose to reject the RMT's call for action short of a strike or not vote at all only shows that the RMT leadership is out of step with its members, and I would urge them to reconsider their plans to take industrial action.

"These procedural changes have no impact whatsoever on our high safety standards but will significantly help our response to incidents, reducing unnecessary delay and crowding, and improving customer service.

"The changes, which have already been in place for a couple of weeks and delivering real benefits, have been exhaustively consulted upon with union representatives over the last two years and do not compromise any aspect of the Underground's stringent safety procedures."