Workers on London Underground are poised to cause chaos across the capital on the day of the victory parade for England's Rugby World Cup squad.
Only a day after the date of the parade was confirmed, members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union revealed that it was planning to impose a 48-hour go-slow. As a result, Tube drivers will travel at 25mph as opposed to the usual 40 to 45mph.
The action will take place over a two-day period, starting on 8 December, when thousands of rugby fans are expected to descend upon the capital to show their support for the squad.
The move is part of a campaign launched by the RMT after two derailments last month to bring maintenance work back in-house after contracts were given to private companies earlier this year.
RMT members are also planning to go on strike today as well as Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve if the deadlock between the union and London Underground is not broken.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: "We are hoping that the two days of action will make LU realise that our members feel very strongly about safety.
"We don't want to disrupt people's Christmas shopping, but we are not going to have an unsafe workplace."
He added: "We have reluctantly been forced to take this action in the interests of safety in order to stop a major disaster of the type that has occurred when these same privateers were in charge of maintenance of the rail network."
London Underground insisted last night that the safety of passengers would remain a priority throughout the dispute.
"We are reviewing Tube maintenance, strengthening fault reporting procedures and have responded, in detail, to every specific safety issue raised at our Tube Safety Conferences," said Tim O'Toole, the managing director of London Underground.
"Industrial action will not solve the issues facing London Underground. The way forward is for the RMT, all other unions and Tube staff to work with me to make sure we can run the Tube safely and efficiently."
The industrial action was criticised by politicians due to the disruption it was set to cause. Eric Ollerenshaw, leader of the London Assembly Conservatives, said: "There can be no greater contrast between the spiteful behaviour of the RMT and the England rugby team. To call for a go-slow on this day is extremely irresponsible and will cause chaos for hundreds of thousands of people."
Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP and London Mayoral candidate, added: "Of course the safety of passengers on the Tube must be paramount, but this go-slow announcement is yet another kick in the teeth for London and Londoners."
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