Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hopes Fade for Deal to End Tube Strike during New Year Celebrations

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hopes Fade for Deal to End Tube Strike during New Year Celebrations

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

HOPES of averting the threat of a Tube strike on New Year's Eve plunged today.

The 24-hour stoppage is due to start at noon on Saturday and will ruin the Mayor's plans to run allnight Tube services.

More than 200,000 revellers are expected in central London for New Year celebrations, which will include fireworks on the South Bank.

But the RMT union, which ordered the strike, and London Underground chiefs are engaged in a game of brinkmanship as the deadline draws near.

The union has called for a second strike the following week.

Police also fear problems that could be caused by revellers, many the worst for drink, who find themselves stranded in London all night.

Bob Crow, the RMT leader, last night offered to suspend the strike if LU agreed to suspend the introduction early next year of work rosters the union says will leave stations "dangerously understaffed".

LU refused, saying the RMT had approved the changes in a deal it had last year described as " groundbreaking", giving station staff the equivalent of a 35-hour week.

The union then said there was "no point" in returning for talks with Tube chiefs today at Acas, the conciliation service.

Ken Livingstone condemned the RMT, saying the strike would only spoil the plans of "hundreds of thousands of ordinary Londoners to enjoy New Year's Eve".

He described the strike as totally unnecessary. "There is no safety issue, there are no job cuts."

Most staff had agreed the new rosters, he said. "We are not going back on a deal, giving station staff a 35-hour week, which RMT members supported by 30-to-one more than a year ago."

TravelWatch chairman Brian Cooke, London's passenger watchdog, today wrote to Mr Crow asking him to suspend the strikes to allow fresh talks to take place next month. …

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