Tube Strikes Still Likely To Go Ahead

Talks aimed at averting strikes by London Underground workers have ended without agreement, which leaves passengers facing travel chaos.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) plan to walk out for 48 hours from 9.30pm tomorrow, and again at the same time next week, in a row of the closure of Tube ticket offices.

London Mayor Boris Johnson says he's still willing to meet with union leaders ahead of the strike, but only if the walkout is called off.

The leader of the RMT union, meanwhile, says he's prepared to suspend industrial action, if the Mayor holds back on job losses.

The TSSA general secretary has also offered to meet Mr Johnson "anytime, anywhere" in the next 24 hours to try and reach a face to face deal.

He said: "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 desire to become Tory party leader."

RMT general secretary Bob Crow told a news conference: "We are prepared to suspend the industrial action if the Mayor is prepared to suspend the job losses.

"These cuts will be followed by more and more cuts unless we do something about it."

Boris Johnson said: I'll meet Bob Crow any time if he calls off this strike, and my office is open to him. What we can't do is go ahead and have some pointless discussion if he's going to continue with a pointless strike."

The unions have accused transport bosses of holding "a gun" to their heads.

They say the ticket office closures will lead to almost 1,000 job losses, with redundancies starting at the end of the month.