Tube strikes February 2014: Boris Johnson says union boss Bob Crow is holding London to ransom

RMT and TSSA members are due to walk out for 48 hours from 9pm on Tuesday and again a week later

The London mayor Boris Johnson has accused rail union boss Bob Crow of trying to hold the capital to ransom before the first of two threatened Tube strikes.

The London Mayor Boris Johnson has accused rail union boss Bob Crow of holding London to ransom ahead of two proposed tube strikes.

Boris Johnson launched the criticism after photos appeared in the press showing the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) general secretary soaking up the rays on a £10,000 cruise holiday in South America, just days before the first 48 hour walk-out is due to begin tomorrow.

In his weekly column for the Daily Telegraph, the mayor said that while he did not begrudge Mr Crow his holiday, he was not entitled to "disrupt the lives of millions of people who are not on holiday but who want to work".

Update:
Tube strike: Bob Crow and Boris Johnson clash in bizarre radio confrontation ahead of strike

"Well, I love a beach holiday myself; like Bob, I have some groovy swimwear that doesn't always meet with acclaim; and I consider it the right of every freeborn Englishman to drink a bottle of wine and turn the colour of a lobster in the sun. Bob Crow is entitled to his holiday," he said.

"What he should certainly not be able to do, in my view, is prepare to disrupt the lives of millions of people who are not on holiday but who want to work; indeed, who need to get to work tomorrow to earn the bread for themselves and their families - the bread that will allow them to pay for a holiday of a kind that Bob has been enjoying."

Johnson said that, although the capital will do its best to carry on throughout the threatened strikes, the actions makes him "furious" because it is "completely unnecessary and wrong".

Mr Johnson dismissed the action over ticket office closures on the Underground as Mr Johnson dismissed the action over ticket office closures on the Underground as "politically-motivated muscle-flexing" The strike is a response to Government plans to revolutionise ticketing on the Underground, which will incorporate shutting many ticket offices.

But the mayor claimed the changes will bring positive transformation to the London transport network and dismissed the strikes as "politically-motivated muscle-flexing" by the unions in the hope of attracting members.

With fewer than half of RMT members taking part in the ballot and just 30 per cent of the membership voting in favour of action, Mr Johnson reiterated his call for legislation to introduce a threshold, which would render any strike ballot void unless at least 50 per cent of the workforce take part.

"It is absolutely outrageous that London, the motor of the UK economy - now contributing 25 per cent of GDP - should be held to ransom by this tiny minority. We are talking here about an essential public service, on which millions depend for their livelihoods," he said.

Last ditch talks aimed at averting the strikes will be held today.

Read more:
Tube strike map: Which lines are still running?  
How the Tube strikes will affect your journey (and stress levels)

Members of the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association are due to walk out for 48 hours from 9pm tomorrow and again a week later, in protest at the closures and the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Mr Johnson has offered to hold talks, but only if the industrial action is called off.

The two sides met at the conciliation service Acas last week, with little sign of a breakthrough.

Mr Crow said: "The RMT remains totally committed to making progress through those negotiations.

"In the meantime I have had further correspondence with Boris Johnson and we are available for direct talks with the mayor with no preconditions.

Photos appeared in the press showing the RMT general secretary soaking up the rays on a cruise holiday in South America Photos appeared in the press showing the RMT general secretary soaking up the rays on a cruise holiday in South America "We are awaiting his confirmation that he is up for getting round the table with no preconditions or caveats."

London Underground has announced contingency plans for the strike days, but passengers face travel chaos if the action goes ahead.

Transport for London warned that Tube services will be hit if the strikes go ahead as planned.

In a statement, it said: "Should the RMT and TSSA strike action go ahead, London Underground will keep as many stations open and run as many trains as possible.

"Services will be affected from 9.30pm on Tuesday 4 February so customers are asked to try to complete journeys as early as possible that evening.

"If your Oyster card needs topping up, it may help to do this in advance of the industrial action starting.

"There will be disruption to journeys on Wednesday and Thursday, when Tube services will start later and finish earlier than normal - trains will run from around 7am to 11pm."

London Underground managing director Mike Brown said: "My message to the union leaderships is that it's not too late to do the right thing, call off this completely unnecessary strike and work with us to help shape the future of the Tube. All a strike will achieve is to lose those who take part four days' pay.

"Should the strike go ahead, we'll do all we can to keep customers informed and ensure we keep London moving and open for business."

Additional reporting by Press Association


Watch Boris Johnson talk about tube improvement - involving 750 job cuts

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?