Tube strikes to go ahead after talks break down

Talks aimed at averting a series of strikes on the London Underground have broken down, according to the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

The RMT said the industrial action with the Transport Salaried Staffs Association would go ahead as planned.

The first 24-hour strike is planned for Monday with members due to walk out on a further three dates.

The unions are fighting plans to cut 800 jobs. London Underground said there would be no compulsory redundancies.

Up to 10,000 union members are expected to walk out for 24 hours on 6 September, 3 October, 2 November and 28 November.

Maintenance and engineering staff intend to walk out at 1700 with other workers, including Tube drivers, signallers and station staff, following suit at 2100 on the same dates.

Representatives from the RMT and TSSA met bosses from LU at the conciliation service Acas on Thursday morning.

'Unreasonable preconditions'

But the RMT accused LU management of "sabotaging" talks by failing to remove the threat of cuts to safety and staffing levels.

The RMT's general secretary Bob Crow said: "LU management knew very well that meaningful talks could not proceed while the threat of cuts to safety and safe staffing levels hung over our members' heads.

"Their failure to remove that threat sabotaged any prospect of making progress."

He also said the unions had "completely demolished" the LU line that the cuts were about new technology and the Oyster card.

"The planned cuts are part of a multi-billion pound black hole facing the mayor due to the costs of the failure of Tube privatisation and an attack on funding levels from the ConDem government," he said.

LU, however, accused the unions of imposing unreasonable preconditions that would render constructive discussions impossible.

Howard Collins, London Underground's chief operating officer, said: "London Underground went to Acas to take part in meaningful discussions with the TSSA and RMT leaderships, with the expectation that they would be prepared to do the same."

The TSSA also announced that its members employed by maintenance firm Tube Lines would strike on 7 September in a separate pay row.

Managers and clerical workers will walk out from 0900 BST to 1700 BST and start an indefinite ban on overtime.

'Unnecessary strike'

TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty said: "High-performing managers last year received no pay increase whilst many of the staff they manage received a pay rise of 4.2%.

"Tube Lines have consistently refused to negotiate with us over the matter and our members have finally said enough is enough."

In response to this, a Transport for London spokesman said: "In the current economic climate it is doubtful there will be much sympathy for the TSSA leadership's decision to take pointless and unnecessary strike action over the issue of managers' performance-related pay."

An Acas spokesman said: "It was not possible for the parties to reach an agreement.

"At this moment in time no further talks are planned."

Workers at Alstom-Metro depots on the Jubilee and Northern lines also plan to strike in protest over pay and conditions.

They will walk out for 24 hours at 1900 on 5 September, 2 October, 1 November and 27 November.

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