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Tube strike on as talks break down

Talks aimed at averting a strike by London Underground workers have broken down and a 24 hour walkout will go ahead from tomorrow evening, causing travel chaos across the capital.

A last-ditch attempt was made to resolve a pay row at a meeting between union officials and LU managers, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas.

But the meeting ended with the two sides blaming each other as p assengers were given details of disruption to Tube services.

LU said Tubes will start running down from 5pm tomorrow, there will be no services on Thursday and there could be disruption on Friday morning.

Tubes are expected to be "exceptionally busy" between 4pm and 6pm tomorrow - just after the Budget - as people try to get home before the 24-hour strike officially starts at 6.30pm.

Almost 20,000 members of four trade unions will strike in a row over the new all-night Tube services.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Aslef, Transport Salaried Staffs Association and Unite have been in dispute over pay being offered for the new service, due to start at weekends from mid-September, as well as rosters.

Managers have tabled a "final" offer , including an average 2% rise this year, at least RPI inflation for each of the next two years and £2,000 for drivers on the new all-night service.

Transport for London said extra bus and river services will run, but warned that roads and all public transport will be much busier than usual.

Mike Brown, managing director of LU, told the Press Association he was "gutted" that the unions had not responded to the "fair and reasonable" offer.

"It would have been good if we could have had some talks, because none of the unions responded to the offer.

"If they are not prepared to talk to us they should go back to their members because this is a vastly different offer.

"All we have heard is a series of speeches from trade union leaders, condemning us for communicating with our staff.

"The offer is still there and we are available to talk about it. I am amazed we have had no response."

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Despite strenuous efforts by union negotiators to press London Underground to address the issues of fairness, safety, work/life balance and equality at the heart of this dispute, they have come up with nothing in the talks this afternoon.

"The action is on and RMT will be mobilising picket lines and effective action with our sister unions and there are no further talks planned at this stage."

Finn Brennan, Aslef's organiser on the Tube, said: " The responsibility for this strike and the disruption that it will cause rests squarely with London Underground management . They squandered the window of opportunity to resolve this dispute by refusing to move their position in the slightest for three months and then demanding that all four trade unions accept an offer in one afternoon. They have played foolish games of brinkmanship, taking their offer off the table then denying they had done so.

"Aslef members voted by over 97% on a turnout of more than 81% to take strike action to protect their work/life balance and working conditions. Money has never been the key issue in this dispute - ensuring that change is negotiated rather than imposed and introduced in a fair way has.

"Attempts to brand it as political and using tired cliched attacks on trade unions are simply an effort to distract attention from London Underground's inept handling of negotiations.

"We will be ready to return to the negotiating table on Friday morning to ensure that further action can be avoided."

Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, accused LU bosses of "playing the blame game" with union negotiators.

"It has been amateur night for the past 24 hours while LU played its very own hokey cokey, first the offer was in, then it was out, then it was back in again, maybe.

"They were only interested in one thing, blaming the unions for the stoppage which they could have avoided by taking a serious negotiating position on Monday morning.

"Instead they were more interested in playing to the Tory gallery in Westminster by deliberately misleading us, staff and the media.

"They should ignore the Tories' anti union agenda and, even at this late stage, try to secure a deal which keeps the Tube moving tomorrow."


From Belfast Telegraph