Tube strike October 2014: London Underground staff to stage 48-hour walkout

The RMT union has planned action for next week in the long-running row over Tube ticket office closures

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The Independent Online

London Underground staff are due to hold a 48 hour strike next week in the long-running row over Tube ticket office closures.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has instructed members not to book on for shifts between 9pm on Tuesday, October 14, until 8.59pm on Thursday, October, 16.

The walkout coincides with strikes by council workers and civil servants across the country in separate disputes over pay, jobs and cuts.

London Underground's chief operating officer has described the action as "pointless" and said consultations with the RMT and other unions had been going on for 11 months.

The latest action planned in RMT's Every Job Matters campaign follows a meeting last week which saw reps report back following talks with London Underground.

The union said while some "limited progress" had been made, its executive decided it was not enough following months of negotiations.

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Unions have been campaigning against plans to close ticket offices since they were unveiled last year (LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "RMT negotiators have made every effort in the long-running talks to resolve a range of issues that impact on our members' jobs, their pay and working conditions and the safety of the services that they provide to the travelling public.

"The cuts, currently being bulldozed through, would de-staff whole areas of the Tube system at a time of surging passenger demand and would make evacuation and other basic safety procedures a physical impossibility.

 

"The axing of ticket offices and station staffing grades would render the Tube a no-go zone for many people with disabilities and for women travelling alone. The cuts ignore the realities of life that we saw when services broke down last week and the recent surveys which point to an increase in violence and sexual assaults.

"RMT will not stand back and allow Government-driven austerity cuts to hollow out the Tube system and leave it as a dangerous shell. We are also fully aware that the current cuts are just part of a multi-billion pound attack that will include such lethal ideas as driverless-operation.

"The strike action next week is designed to force the mayor to instruct his senior officials to back away from this toxic cuts package and engage in serious and meaningful negotiations."

Unions have been campaigning against plans to close ticket offices since they were unveiled last year.

London Underground say few tickets are bought at offices now, arguing that staff would be better used by being stationed on concourses.

Phil Hufton, LU's Chief Operating Officer, said: "This is yet more pointless strike action called by the RMT leadership following our plans to modernise and improve the London Underground for our customers. In future we will have more staff than ever before visible and available to help our customers buy the right ticket or use their contactless payment card, plan their journeys and keep them safe and secure.

"We have been in consultation with the RMT and the other trade unions now for 11 months involving over 80 meetings on the details. We have adhered to every single one of the commitments we made to our staff, including delivering on our guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and offering a job for anyone who wants to stay with us with no loss of pay.

"This action and the timing of it - to coincide with public sector strikes that have nothing to do with London Underground - is cynical in the extreme. It will only lose RMT members pay and disrupt Londoners."

London's mayor Boris Johnson said the new strike was "entirely political", telling LBC Radio: "I think they should get a new ballot on this.

"There's absolutely no need for it whatever, it will achieve nothing.

"Londoners will know that this will achieve absolutely nothing at all, except inconvenience for the travelling public.

"We will go ahead with the reform, the ticket office closures and so on, and everybody knows that."

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