New dispute brings Tube strike closer

The prospect of a crippling 48-hour strike by London Underground (LU) workers going ahead next week increased today when a fierce row broke out over pay.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has called its Tube members out from next Tuesday evening in a dispute over jobs, pay and working conditions.

The union today accused the company of "rank hypocrisy" by paying more than 100 managers over £100,000 a year in wages and bonuses while trying to hold down the pay of Tube workers as well as cut jobs.

General secretary Bob Crow said industrial relations on LU and at Transport for London (TfL) had now "completely broken down", adding that his members were solidly supporting next week's strike, which is set to cause travel chaos in the capital.

He said of the mangers' pay: "These figures will only heighten the anger among RMT members who have voted overwhelmingly to strike over attempts to impose pay cuts and compulsory redundancies and over the bullying and harassment of staff.

"Those very same managers who have been attacking our members over pay and job security, and who have turned a blind eye to the bullying culture now rife on the Underground, have scooped the jackpot when it comes to their own pay and bonuses."

A TfL spokesman said the managers' pay figures were announced by the company itself several months ago, adding: "The RMT leadership is demanding a 5 per cent pay rise for fewer hours work. They continue to avoid engaging in any meaningful talks, whereas we are ready to sit down with them right now. Rather than pay cuts, TfL's offer actually guarantees LU employees real pay increases each year for the next five years - few Londoners can claim the same level of security.

"It has already been announced that TfL senior managers will see their salaries frozen this year. The RMT leadership should start talking to us rather than threatening strike action that is supported by less than 30 per cent of their membership, will lose their members pay and will cause unnecessary frustration and disruption to Londoners. We are ready to meet at any time, anywhere."

TfL said bringing the collapsed Metronet under the control of LU had led to the duplication of many back office roles.

"No responsible union should be asking hard-pressed fare-payers and taxpayers to fund jobs that are no longer needed. However, we are making every effort to avoid compulsory redundancies and the RMT leadership knows full well that no front line staff or services will be affected."

The strike is due to start at 1859 next Tuesday and continue for 48 hours.