London Underground (Tube) staff have called for five days of strikes over ticket office closures. Members of the RMT Union are angry about plans by the Mayor of London to force station staff to be more visible.
The strike action is the first to be called since the death of militant union leader Bob Crow last month. Mayor Boris Johnson plans to shut 260 ticket offices and cut 960 jobs. He wants staff to be more available on platforms and at ticket barriers to assist the travelling public.
The walkout will take place from Monday 28th April for 48 hours, then a second strike will begin on Monday 5th May for 72 hours. The strike will fall either side of a planned May Day march in memory of both Bob Crow and the former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn.
Both men where known for their uncompromising hard left views. They died within days of each other, Benn aged 88 and Crow at just 52.
The strike is likely to do significant harm to the capital, as previous strikes have led to major reductions in services. In February the RMT walked out for two days, but a second strike was called off as Transport for London (TfL) bosses agreed to review the decision to close some stations. These negotiations have now hit a road block and the Union have therefore decided to strike again.
TfL said they had met with the RMT forty times in eight weeks but the union had not offered any credible plans.
Boris Johnson told the Daily Mail: “It’s a great shame that cool heads appear not to have prevailed among the RMT leadership. In choosing the nuclear option by threatening yet more pointless strike action the RMT isn’t even supported by a majority of its own union members.
“Rather than threatening more disruption to the lives of hard-working Londoners, they should call off the strikes.”
The RMT have remained a thorn in the side of successive leaderships at London Underground. In the run up to the 2012 London Olympics they threatened strike action unless their members got up to £1000 bonus for working during the games.
TfL were forced to agree to major concessions in order to avoid transport during the games from grinding to a halt.