Talks To Avert Two-Day Tube Strike Collapse
Last-minute talks to avert strikes by London Underground (LU) workers collapsed without agreement.
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members walked out for 48 hours from 9pm on Monday, bringing chaos to the capital.
A second, 72-hour strike is planned for the same time next week.
As well as the Tube, the industrial action is likely to hit buses, trains and the Overground, with services set to be busier than normal as commuters clamber onto alternative routes.
Monday's negotiations followed a deadlock last week, as the union held firm against ticket office closures and potential job losses.
LU said only 3% of tickets are now sold at ticket offices and wants more staff on concourses.
The number of tickets sold over counters is expected to drop further, once contactless bank cards can be used to pay at barriers.
Development of smartphone payment technology will also see a reduction in ticket office revenue.
RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: "London Underground have dug themselves into an entrenched position and have refused to move one inch from their stance of closing every ticket office, in breach of the agreement reached previously through ACAS which enabled us to suspend the previous round of action.
"Despite the spin from LU, nothing they are proposing is about 'modernisation'.
"The current plans, closing every ticket office and axing nearly a thousand safety-critical jobs, are solely about massive austerity cuts driven centrally by David Cameron and his Government and implemented by Mayor Boris Johnson."
Mr Johnson attacked the union and described the strike as "pointless".
"I urge the RMT to call off this pointless strike and get back round the table with London Underground and the three other unions who have chosen not to strike," he said.
"It seems the RMT leadership is set against modernisation and has no fresh ideas of its own."
Prior to the strike announcement, LU said the RMT was demanding the withdrawal of long-standing voluntary redundancy arrangements.
Managing director Mike Brown said: "The RMT leadership are making this up on the hoof.
"Suddenly, they want to unilaterally tear up the long-established and collectively agreed option of voluntary redundancy, throwing into question the plans of over 650 staff who have chosen to leave us.
"The RMT leadership has also failed to take on board the significant changes we have made to our original proposals."
Strike action also hit commuters in the first week of February, with a second strike called off after negotiations amid a wave of flooding in the Thames Valley.
The strike that went ahead caused chaos across the capital, with bus and Overground services struggling to cope with the extra demand and many roads gridlocked.