Talks aimed at calling off February Tube strike action

Talks are being held in London today (Tuesday) in the hope of avoiding widespread strikes by Tube workers during February, london24.com reports.

Two 48-hour walkouts are being considered by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, with the first being on the 4th and 5th of February, before a second on the 11th and 12th.

The strikes are in protest at plans to close every single ticketing booth on the London Underground, which could see anywhere between 750 and 953 workers lose their jobs.

Transport for London (TfL) has claimed that closing ticket offices would save some £50 million every year. Not only that, it said that customer service wouldn’t be detrimentally affected as some workers would instead be placed on station platforms.

The impasse could result in strike action, as both sides gear up for crunch talks today, which will also be attended by representatives from conciliatory service Acas.

RMT chief Bob Crow took the opportunity to claim that his union was entering the talks in good faith, adding that he was confident that Acas were looking for a happy compromise between the two and not simply “going through the motions” when there are jobs and livelihoods at stake.

Managing director of London Underground, Mike Brown, however, was more pugnacious in tone, arguing that the RMT had openly supported its plans in order to create much better customer service.

“It seems very strange and completely unnecessary,” he told bbc.co.uk, “for the leadership to be balloting its members for strike action and all the disruption to Londoners that it would entail.”