Tube strike called off after RMT hails 'progress'
Transport for London had criticised 'pointless' 48-hour strike threatening to disrupt millions of commuters
A 48-hour Tube strike planned by London Understand staff has been called off after "substantial progress" in negotiations held at the conciliation service Acas.
Representatives from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Transport for London (TFL) had yesterday failed to reach agreement, but at lunchtime today the union said that it was calling off the strike.
"RMT has been able to secure significant movement in three key areas which have allowed our executive to suspend both the action scheduled for next week and the on-going overtime ban," Mick Cash, the union's general secretary, said.
"The substantial improvements we have agreed allow us to move forwards but the Union's core opposition to the austerity-led cuts on London Underground has not shifted an inch and we remain vigilant to further developments and their impact."
TFL has not yet responded to the breakthrough.
If the Tube strike had gone ahead, RMT members would have been instructed to walk out from 9pm on Tuesday 14 October until 8.59pm on Thursday 16 October.
The dispute is part of a long-running row over cuts and Tube ticket office closures. Speaking before the action was called off Cash said it was designed to force London Mayor Boris Johnson to instruct his senior officials to back away from their "toxic cuts package" and engage in "serious and meaningful" negotiations.
"The cuts, currently being bulldozed through, would de-staff whole areas of the tube system at a time of surging passenger demand and would make evacuation and other basic safety procedures a physical impossibility," he said. "The axing of ticket offices and station staffing grades would render the tube a no-go zone for many people with disabilities and for women travelling alone."
Transport for London chiefs had condemned the strike as "pointless" and said they expected to keep more than half of Tube services running and 80 per cent of stations open, as they did during the last RMT strike in April.
Tube strike: Central Line disrupted by walkout
Drivers on the London Underground's Central Line have walked out this morning in a dispute over working conditions.
There is currently no service through central London on the line. Trains are running between Leytonstone and Epping and between White City and Ealing Broadway, but with severe delays. The Waterloo and City Line is also suspended.
All other lines are unaffected by the Tube strike, which lasts until midnight tonight. Services are expected to return to normal tomorrow morning.
Strike action was overwhelmingly backed by members of the Aslef train drivers' union, which has accused London Underground of a "failure to treat drivers with the respect and dignity they deserve".
Nine in ten of the balloted members backed the walkout.
Finn Brennan, an organiser for the union, said: "This dispute has been brought about by management intransigence on a range of issues, but at its heart is management's refusal to treat drivers with the respect and dignity they deserve at work.
"Our members will not tolerate a situation where vulnerable people leave sickness review meetings in tears and drivers with years and years of good and long service are threatened with disciplinary action for a delay of 33 seconds in leaving a terminus."
London Underground's general manager Lance Ramsay said he was "disappointed" that the union had voted in favour of strike action while discussions were still ongoing. "Strike action is not necessary and we urge them to continue talks with us to understand and resolve their concerns," he said. ·