LONDON, May 6, 2014 — A 72-hour Tube strike was set to commence Monday evening, a week after workers walked out over a plan to shutter ticket booths. The London Tube is the world’s oldest subway system where more than 3 million trips are taken every day. The Tube has 270 stations and at conflict is the desire to automate certain ticket function, which could result in the loss of 750-1000 jobs.
Savings to the London Underground as a result of the automation are being estimated to be $84 million per year.
London Underground and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and the London Underground have expressed the need to work together going forward to insure that future disruptions do not happen:
I am pleased that Londoners will not have to endure further strike action this week. The only way to resolve this dispute is for the RMT leadership to work with us to shape the future of the Tube in a changing world. It is good that they have committed to doing so alongside the three other unions involved.
– PHIL HUFTON, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF LONDON UNDERGROUND
We have been able to secure real movement and significant progress on the issues at the heart of this dispute in talks with the Tube management over the bank holiday weekend.
– MICK CASH, ACTING RMT GENERAL SECRETARY
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is opposed to London Transport plans to upgrade the system, which officials contend will save more than $84 million per year, according to published reports.
As part of the so-called modernization, more than 900 ticket booth workers could lose their jobs.
“We are committed to maintaining and improving the Tube’s excellent safety and customer service record and our plans to modernize the Tube will do just that,” Phil Hufton, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “It will increase the number of visible staff on the network … who will personally serve our passengers, providing help for customers who need it most.
“…The only sensible course is for the RMT leadership to join us and the other unions in continuing discussions and to work with us to shape the future of the Tube, rather than threatening more pointless strike action which will only disrupt Londoners and lose staff pay,” Hufton said.
Despite this week’s planned walkout, Tube officials were planning to run trains on a number of lines, albeit less frequently. They would also beef up alternate mode of transportation, including buses and river taxis along the Thames River.
Tube workers staged a 48-hour strike last week. During that strike, 80 percent of Tube stations were open, half of schedule trains operated and the Tube ferried roughly 57 percent of its usual passenger load, according to Transport for London.
“Once again London is being held to ransom by a minority of just one union, the RMT, who, unlike the other three unions, and on a ballot taken last November with just 30% support, is digging in its heels and refusing to play its part in shaping the future of the Tube,” the Mirror quoted London Mayor Boris Johnson as saying.