Tube workers start voting on strike action

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The threat of disruption on London Underground came closer today when workers started voting on strikes in four separate disputes, while union leaders released the timetable for a Tube-wide industrial action ballot over pay.

About 10,000 members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union will start voting at the end of the month on whether to stage walkouts, with the result due on December 21.

The union will have to give seven days notice of any strikes, raising the threat of disruption in the run up to New Year's Eve if there is a yes vote.

RMT leader Bob Crow said: "After over 15 hours of talks at Acas the pay offer still stands at a derisory 1.5% from April of this year and RPI plus 0.5% in 2010.

"That offer is totally unacceptable to RMT reps and that is why we are taking the issue back out to a full ballot of our members with a strong recommendation for a massive yes vote."

The union also announced it was balloting members, including drivers and station staff, in a series of four different localised rows over pay, rosters, working arrangements and the dismissal of a worker.

Mr Crow said: "Despite the use of the courts and the anti-trade union laws to try and shackle the RMT, our members on London Underground and Transport for London continue to show their determination to fight for decent pay and conditions and against attacks on the union.

"In these four separate ballots on four localised trade disputes RMT is showing again that this trade union will not be found wanting when it comes to fighting for fairness and justice in the workplace."

London Underground called on the RMT to end its threat of strikes, saying that fresh talks were due to take place later this month.

Managing director Richard Parry said: "It is inexcusable that the RMT leadership once again raises the threat of strike action. They should follow Aslef's lead and recommend acceptance of the pay offer to their members.

"RMT's leadership are making these threats when discussions are planned, making a nonsense of their claim to be interested in talks.

"Instead, they are again intent on threatening further inconvenience for Londoners, many of whom will have had their pay cut or will have lost their jobs in the toughest economic conditions in decades."

Unite will announce the result of an industrial action ballot of its LU members on Monday, also over pay.

* Almost 3,000 Unite members working for London bus operators First Centre West, First Capital East and Hackney Community Transport have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action over pay, the union announced. Strikes are due to run for 48 hours from 3am tomorrow.