London Underground Workers To Strike In Rota Dispute

(BBC) – LONDON UNDERGROUND (LU) maintenance staff will hold a series of one-day strikes over new rotas, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union has said.

More than 700 staff will walk out for 24 hours from 0645 GMT on 5 and 14 February, according to the union.

Union members also plan to walk out on following Sundays until the dispute about the new rotas and the outsourcing of work and contracts is resolved.

LU said the move was “ludicrous”, because new rotas affected 30 workers.

The dispute is over the working conditions of maintenance staff on the former Metronet sections of the Tube network – all lines except for the Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee.

The RMT accused LU of adopting “bully-boy” tactics.

Bob Crow, the union’s general secretary, said: “LU have been hell-bent on confrontation through their tearing up of the signals framework agreement and through the unilateral introduction of new working practices which mean they can make people work what hours they like, when they like.”

But Phil Hufton, LU’s chief maintenance officer, said staff and unions were “fully consulted”.

He said: “We are planning to introduce a roster covering 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure planned engineering staff are always available. That agreement already exists, but the RMT is trying to tear it up.”

Meanwhile in a separate row, the union claimed that LU was “secretly” discussing plans to save £5bn in spending which would threaten 1,200 jobs and close 144 ticket offices in stations.

Mr Crow said: “The job cuts being cooked up behind closed doors for Underground stations would leave passengers dangerously exposed in the event of an emergency and would ratchet up the dangers for the public.”

But a Transport for London (TfL) spokesman stressed that “no decisions have been made”.

“Given the current economic climate and the need to be ready for the changes that will arise when the Tube upgrades are delivered, we are looking at how we can be best organised to provide that service.”

… (BBC, 05/02/2010) – London Undergound maintenance workers begin strike