London Underground strikes are expected to start at 9pm tonight as talks to avert strikes failed yesterday.
RMT leader Bob Crow and Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) general secretary Manuel Cortes claimed they got in touch with London Mayor Boris Johnson to hold last-minute discussions to avert the strikes.
Cortes told the London Evening Standard: “It became increasingly clear over the past six days that Boris has been refusing to allow his negotiating team to enter into serious talks over his wholesale ticket office closure programme.
“We now want to sit down with the organ grinder himself and reach a deal that will keep our Tube services running.
“We will suspend the action if he suspends the threat to 953 jobs. He is determined to pick a fight with us to further his long term political career regardless of the damage to our Tube network. He should put the travelling public ahead of his desire to become Tory party leader.”
Johnson took a dig at Crow, who took a holiday in Brazil last week, saying the RMT boss sent an email “from his Brazilian beach hideaway”.
“After I offered to sit down with Bob Crow if he called off the strikes I received an email, presumably sent from his Brazilian beach hideaway, that said he’d be in touch,” Johnson said.
“Well Bob, you haven’t rung. That suggests, sadly, that Bob Crow is determined to strike, even though a massive 70% of his own members don’t even back him.
“Here’s the truth: no one will face compulsory redundancy under these plans – indeed we’ve had more expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy than we need – 82% of Londoners back TfLs modernisation plans; ticket offices are used by just 3% of customers and falling; and these changes will put more staff on platforms and station concourses not less.
“The bottom line, and Bob knows it, is that these strikes will achieve nothing.
“Instead of trying to bolster sagging union membership, Bob should call off the strikes, engage with TfL’s consultation and with me. Instead he seems hell bent on attempting to disrupt the lives of hard working Londoners through strike action that is utterly, utterly pointless.”