Tube strike: London Underground talks end with no agreement

Tube ticket office There are plans to close all ticket offices on the London Underground

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Talks intended to avert strikes on the London Underground have ended without agreement.

Members of the Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are due to walk out for 48 hours from 21:00 GMT on Tuesday and again on 11 February.

Union leaders have offered to suspend strikes if plans for ticket office closures are put on hold.

TfL has said it hopes to run a limited service on some lines.

'Absolutely outrageous'

Talks were held at the conciliation service Acas and may resume on Tuesday.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow told a news conference: "We are prepared to suspend the industrial action if the mayor is prepared to suspend the job losses.

"In the meantime, the action remains on. These cuts will be followed by more and more cuts unless we do something about it."

Bob Crow RMT leader Bob Crow has urged the mayor to suspend job losses

He described criticism of a holiday he took to Brazil last week as "cobblers", saying Boris Johnson was refusing to meet him wherever he was.

In his Daily Telegraph column on Monday, Mr Johnson accused Mr Crow of trying to hold the capital to ransom.

He reiterated his call for legislation to render any strike ballot void unless at least 50% of the workforce took part.

The RMT said 40% of members voted, with 76% of those supporting strikes. TfL said the turnout was 30%.

"It is absolutely outrageous that London, the motor of the UK economy - now contributing 25% of GDP - should be held to ransom by this tiny minority," said Mr Johnson.

'Cooling off period'

TfL has said that no staff members will face compulsory redundancy due to the ticket office closures. In a statement, TfL said it was seeking a reduction of 750 jobs, and had they had received 450 applications for voluntary severance.

London Underground chief operating officer Phil Hufton said a "cooling off period" had been proposed for the unions to suspend strike action and extend their formal consultations, but an agreement could not be reached.

"It's not too late for the RMT and TSSA to call off their unnecessary strikes and work with us to shape the future of the Tube," he said.

"We remain ready to continue talks at any time. Should the strikes go ahead, we will do all we can to keep London moving and open for business."

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

TfL warned services would start later than usual at 07:00 GMT and finish earlier than normal at about 23:00 GMT.

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