Thousands of London Underground workers have started a 24-hour strike, threatening travel disruption for commuters and other passengers and problems for businesses in the busy run-up to Christmas.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association walked out at 6.30pm as part of a long-running dispute over 800 ticket office job cuts.
It was the fourth stoppage in recent months following the collapse last week of talks aimed at breaking the deadlock.
Transport for London (TfL) pledged to run as many Tube services as possible, although it warned there will be disruption throughout the whole of Monday with services not returning to normal until Tuesday.
Labour’s Mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, urged London Mayor Boris Johnson to intervene in the dispute, saying: “Londoners have endured months of Tube misery with delays, disruption and strikes, yet Boris Johnson refuses to roll his sleeves up and get a grip.
“It’s been well over 900 days since Boris Johnson was elected and he is yet to speak to the representatives of Tube workers. As Mayor of London and chairman of Transport for London, meeting the representatives of Tube workers is an essential part of the job, whether Boris Johnson likes it or not.”
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “It is incredible that LU management would not agree to a 12-week suspension of the cuts to allow a thorough safety evaluation on the impact on each station of their cuts plans. That shows complete and utter contempt for the safety of both their passengers and their staff.”
Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: “We will be doing everything we can to get as many Tube services as possible operating throughout Sunday evening and Monday, and to keep Londoners on the move with extra buses, river services, and other alternatives. Londoners will face some disruption, but we intend to run services on nearly all Tube lines, meaning that people will be able to get around.
“We have been consulting with the union leaderships for more than six months, trying to establish what specific safety concerns they may now have. This week we offered a further six weeks to discuss our plans to see if there are any local issues which need to be addressed, but the leaders of the RMT and TSSA prefer to attack the people of London yet again and attempt to hold us all to ransom.
“If they are serious about resolving this issue, they should immediately call off their totally unnecessary strike, which will achieve nothing whatsoever.”