TALKS ARE BEING held at ACAS today, Saturday, in an attempt to halt a 24 hour strike on London Underground (LU), due to begin on Sunday evening. The strike would involve members of the RMT union and members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA). The dispute is over staffing levels on the Tube.
Talks between the unions and LU management broke down on Friday, with both sides still far apart. As they left the talks, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said that LU had failed to come up with “any serious plans to tackle the staffing and safety crisis.” Mel Taylor of the TSSA condemned LU proposals over staffing levels as “just not enough” and called for a longer term solution to Tube staffing levels. LU say that the strike is not necessary as they are recruiting extra staff already.
If the strike goes ahead, it is expected to close most central London Tube stations and leave only a restricted service in outer London. While this will obviously inconvenience many London residents and visitors, the action comes after months of complaints over lack of staff caused by ticket offices closing and similar cutbacks.
The Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, is in charge of Transport for London, of which LU is a part. He has said that he wants LU to “work round the clock” to try to resolve the dispute by negotiation. He has also surprised the trade unions involved by calling on them to call the strike off. It is of course in his gift to order LU to adopt staffing levels which make customers feel safe – so if any one person has the power to end the strike, it is the mayor himself. This does not seem to have occurred to him.