Strike and wildcat - a day on the Underground

The day-long strike of London Underground station staff ended last night, as 45 stations were closed.

Submitted by Steven. on January 10, 2006

In a separate action, the Northern Line - one of the busiest of the 12 lines - was shut down by the wildcat action of drivers who were supporting a sacked colleague

The BBC reported that when the strike ended at 1830 GMT a total of 19 stations remained closed and two tube lines were having delays.

Transport for London had promised it would "get people home from work" and said the strike had "minimal impact".

Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members at ticket offices and stations had walked out in a row over new rotas.

They claim their introduction will cost many of its members their jobs and that safety will be jeopardised by stations being short-staffed. Read our interview with an RMT member...

LU said a good service was running on 10 out of 12 lines and denied RMT claims that it was running an "unsafe network". There were severe delays on the Piccadilly line between Heathrow and Cockfosters.

Separate unofficial action had caused delays on the Northern Line, LU said. Some drivers at a depot in Morden failed to turn up for work in support of a sacked colleague.

Training issue
An LU spokesman added that the strike had little effect in the morning and said that at the height of the action less than 10% of stations were closed due to industrial action.

But a RMT spokesman described the situation as "chaotic" and claimed staff were working in positions they were not fully trained for.

"We will be balloting all London Underground staff on the basis that LU is prepared to use unsafe systems in order to defeat the strike, which is unacceptable," he said.

LU said these claims were "untrue" and they would not run services or keep stations open where it was not safe to do so, and that all staff had appropriate safety licences.

'Clear agreement'
Tube staff previously walked out on New Year's Eve, causing about 35 stations to close because of a lack of staff.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said a deal was reached more than a year ago to give station staff a 35-hour week and 52 days leave.

He said the "clear agreement" was that the reduction in hours would be covered by redeploying staff, particularly from ticket offices where cash sales have been falling following the introduction of prepaid cards.

However, the union says the new rotas were not what it signed up to, and may leave some stations understaffed and unsafe.

The union said it was pleased an investigation by the Chief Inspector of Railways would be carried out into its claims of safety breaches during the previous strike on New Year's Eve.