London Underground’s (LU) refusal to negotiate further in a dispute involving the tube’s power workers could cause disruption to people wishing to watch the Tour de France when it arrives in London on 7 July, warned Britain’s largest union, Unite.
The union urged LU to re-engage in meaningful talks, warning that its refusal to fully utilise the conciliation service Acas to resolve the dispute, could result in the workers, who control the power to run the trains, going on strike.
Unite called off a May bank holiday strike after reaching an outline deal at Acas only for LU to shift the goalposts leading to the talks breaking down.
As a result, workers are now threatening to strike from 20:00 on Tuesday 1 July to 20:00 hours on Wednesday 9 July. The RMT and TSSA unions will be taking similar industrial action.
The 40 technicians, mostly members of Unite, are based at the power control room in Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NJ where they provide the power for the 270 station underground network.
Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “Because of the hardline management stance, there is a real possibility that the underground could close down affecting the travel plans of thousands of people wanting to watch the Tour de France on Monday 7 July.
"The public should be under no doubts this could and should have been resolved weeks ago. The blame for the fact that it hasn’t sits squarely on the shoulders of London Underground’s obstructive management.
“Strike action is a last resort and the ball is very much in the management’s court, if it wishes to approach Acas.
“We called off a strike due to be held over the May bank holiday to hold talks with Acas, but London Underground shifted the goalposts and has refused to meaningfully negotiate further.
“The issue here is broken promises, unfair treatment over differentials and worsening conditions. London Underground management’s penny pinching attitude is not being driven by common sense, but by the background agenda of budget cuts in the Treasury’s funding.”
The dispute is complex and involves the workforce being tuped - Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 - to other organisations some years ago, and then coming back under London Underground management, but with different conditions.
This means that some workers started their length of service from day one when they returned to London Underground, while others brought back their full number of previous years’ service. This would have a differential impact on the level of pensions and other entitlements for some staff.
Unite is also asking for more money for its members to do the training of new recruits, but the management wants the staff to take on this additional responsibility for no extra cash.
For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
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