Unions threaten Tube strikes

Strikes appear imminent on London Underground, after pay dispute discussions between union bosses and the Tube’s management ended in discord at the arbitration service ACAS.

Trade union leaders want an improved offer for the tube’s 11,000 drivers, station, signalling staff and ancillary staff.

A further one per cent pay increase is eyed on top of the 3% won in 2002.

Further demands include a shorter working week, improved pension benefits and better travel facilities.

But the Tube officials appear unwilling to look beyond the 0.75 per cent increase on the table and wont budge on the other demands.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, has said his union may ballot members for strike action if management refused to rethink its position.

“We are serving notice on LU that we want these issues addressed now. We were told there would be a new order on London Underground following the transfer of the tube but all we have seen so far is the same meat with different gravy,” he said.

Separately, officials from the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef), signalled yesterday that its train drivers would be balloted over strike action in the row over union recognition.

Heathrow Express insists its 280 employees want representation by both Aslef and its “independent” staff association.

Alsef said it would resist moves to grant it parity of negotiation with the association.

Aslef wants to retain exclusive recognition rights for its members.

Heathrow Express, owned by the British Airports Authority (BAA), runs the 15-minute service between the airport and London’s Paddington Station 150 times a day.

The proposed ballot will close on September 18th, and under current employment legislation law, strike action could begin a week later.

24-hour strikes by the RMT and Aslef rocked the Tube in September and October last year.