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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-07

Staff on the London Underground continued the first of a series of 24-hour strikes on Tuesday in protest at plans to cut 800 jobs on the busy transport network, which carries some 3.5 million commuters every day.


REUTERS - Workers on London's underground rail network walked out on Monday in a staggered 24-hour strike over plans to save money by reducing staffing at stations and closing ticket offices.
The dispute will disrupt travel across the capital for commuters and tourists for most of Tuesday as unions fight against efficiency measures they say will compromise safety on the 250-mile network.
The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said a planned reduction of 800 station jobs was just "the tip of the iceberg" as the coalition government prepares 25 percent cuts in spending across state departments to tackle a record budget deficit.
Governments across Europe face labour unrest as they take unpopular measures to curb state spending.
As up to 10,000 underground workers walked out in London, rail staff across France staged their own strike in a national protest against austerity plans to raise the retirement age.
Further transport misery was threatened for British travellers as British Airways cabin crew indicated at a mass meeting they were ready to stage further strikes in a separate long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
Underground rail operator Transport for London said its proposed reduction in station staff across the capital was an attempt to deploy workers more effectively and pledged there would be no compulsory redundancies.
"We are in very tough financial circumstances," London Mayor Boris Johnson told Channel 4 News. "When you have got a commonsensical reform that can get people out from behind the glass panes (of ticket offices) onto the platforms ... then I really think you should look at it."
But RMT leader Bob Crow said the job cuts would turn the clock back on safety measures recommended after a central London station fire at King's Cross that killed 31 people in 1987.
"The travelling public wants to see plenty of visible London Underground staff," he told Channel 4 News.
TfL said people should consider using bikes, buses, and boats instead of the underground "Tube" network during the strike, while a marshalled taxi service would be run at the capital's five major rail termini.
The underground network normally runs over 500 trains at peak hours and carries some 3.5 million passengers a day.
Further 24-hour strikes are planned for Oct. 3, Nov. 2 and Nov. 28.
Photo - (c) Transport for London 2005


Date created : 2010-09-06

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