Tube maintenance staff set for strike action

Hundreds of London Underground maintenance workers will stage the first in a series of 24-hour strikes tomorrow in a row over rosters and outsourcing of work, union leaders confirmed today.

Around 750 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union will walk out from 0645, followed by stoppages from the same time every Sunday from February 14 until the dispute is resolved.

The action involves workers on lines which used to be maintained by Metronet, including the Victoria, Bakerloo and Central routes.

RMT leader Bob Crow said: "LU have been hell bent on confrontation through their tearing up of the signals framework agreement and through the unilateral introduction of new working practices which mean they can make people work what hours they like, when they like. RMT members have said enough is enough by voting overwhelmingly for action.

"Our members' job security is also being undermined by the handing over of work to external private contractors which could be done internally.

"We have held extensive talks with the company on the rostering issue but every positive proposal from RMT has been thrown back in our faces. It is management intransigence that has forced us into this action and we expect rock solid support from our members."

Phil Hufton, LU's chief maintenance officer, said: "Londoners will share our dismay at the RMT's leadership's attempts to jeopardise the Tube's operation over this issue. We are planning to introduce a roster covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure planned engineering staff are always available. That agreement already exists, but the RMT is trying to tear it up.

"We have consulted fully with staff and unions on the proposed changes and we are prepared to continue discussions with the RMT. They should stop threatening industrial action at every opportunity, when all that will do is lose their members more pay.

"Despite this unjustified threat, it is our intention to operate a good service across the network during any industrial action."

Mr Hufton added: "It is simply astonishing that the RMT issued a press release confirming their plans to strike while we are still negotiating with them at Acas.

"This questions the RMT's claims that they wish to talk and shows they are intent on disrupting London rather than resolving this issue."