|Tube reported to be running well despite RMT strike|
New Year's Eve revellers urged to plan ahead
The threatened tube strike is set to go ahead after bosses and unions failed to reach agreement. Thousands of London Underground workers will begin a 24 hours walkout starting at 12.00 noon today.
The latest information is that tubes are operating a good service with most stations opened and at this stage it would appear that the strike has had little impact.
Transport for London had already announced the continuous running for this year, with the Tube being free from 11.45pm on New Year’s Eve until 4.30am on New Year’s Day.
The action is also expected to affect the New Year's Parade which is due to start at midday on Sunday 1st January.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said frontline station staff, who were praised for their work on July 7th when three bombs were detonated on the Underground, were facing the sack. The RMT are also complaining about a change in working hours and job roles. The union had offered to suspend the action, if London Underground agreed to suspend the introduction of the rotas, to allow more time for talks. But Tube bosses turned down the "ultimatum", saying it could have compromised holiday arrangements for thousands of staff.
RMT regional organiser Bobby Law told the BBC "We had no choice really. It's London Underground that won't suspend the introduction of the rosters which we believe is unsafe - not just for our members - should they be introduced. We believe they will be unsafe for the travelling public as well."
In response a London Underground spokesman said "The RMT's refusal to even talk with us is totally unreasonable. Withdrawing rosters agreed with nine out of 10 staff would cause chaos, disrupt staff holidays and undermine the 35-hour week agreement."
Brian Cooke Chair of the TravelWatch group said the strike was unlikely to gain any public support. "The RMT are striking on the one night of the year when the tube runs all night and this will cause massive inconvenience to the passengers who want to see the new year arrive in London. It will lead to massive overcrowding on buses and may also encourage drink driving. The RMT will make no friends over this".
London's mayor, Ken Livingstone, said the strike would "spoil a great night out for hundreds of thousands of Londoners". Crowds traditionally fill the streets around Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square and the Victoria embankment to hear Big Ben strike and watch the fireworks display at midnight.
December 31, 2005 3:50 PM