Union offers to suspend Tube strikes

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The Independent Online

Union leaders today offered to suspend further strikes on London Underground if a safety evaluation takes place into planned job cuts.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are due to stage a fourth 24-hour strike from 5pm on Sunday evening in protest at 800 job losses, which threatens fresh travel chaos for commuters.

During talks at the conciliation service Acas today, the unions tabled a new proposal which included a recommendation for the suspension of industrial action if the management side agreed to a 12 week suspension of the implementation of the station staffing cuts proposals to allow for a station-by-station safety evaluation to take place.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "After many hours of talks we have now pinned down the issue of the station-by-station safety review, the mechanism for that review and the timescale to allow it to be carried out thoroughly taking into account the looming Christmas and New Year period.

"Clearly, the review can only happen in a meaningful and thorough fashion if the job cuts process is suspended for the 12 weeks that we believe is required to assess the safety implications for each station properly. If the management agree to that then we will recommend the suspension of the industrial action through Christmas and into the New Year."

TSSA leader Gerry Doherty said: "The unions have today put forward a proposal seeking to address safety, ticket office closures and the impact of cuts on passengers.

"It would seem after long discussions at Acas, London Underground management have finally arrived at a point where they are willing to at least consider suspending their unnecessary job cuts programme to allow for a meaningful safety and customer service review.

"It seems incredulous that it has taken three days of strike action to get here but if management agree to our proposal we will seek to persuade our members to suspend the strike action planned for next week."

London Underground chief operating officer, Howard Collins said: "After several weeks of discussions with trade union reps at Acas, we welcome the fact that the RMT and TSSA leaderships are saying they will continue to talk to us about any outstanding concerns they have.

"If they are serious, they should call off their totally unnecessary strike immediately. We will talk to them right now on any genuine safety issues they have. We want an end to this dispute and believe that a resolution will be only achieved through talks, not by threatening to disrupt London."