A 72-hour strike on London Underground was last night called off after an improved pay offer was made.
Some 1,000 track, signal and train maintenance staff working for Tube Lines, the contractor responsible for running the Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee lines, were due to walk out. The strike would have meant that any signalling problems - a daily occurance - or track faults would have closed down the lines.
As millions of commuters prepared for the three-day disruption the action was called off by the RMT union. RMT said the action had been suspended and it would be putting the offer to members in a ballot with the recommendation that they accept it. A second 72-hour strike, due to start on September 3, will now almost certainly not go ahead either, the RMT said.
The move will come as some relief to the London mayor, Boris Johnson, who yesterday urged both sides to settle their differences over what he described as "a relatively trivial dispute".
The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry described the strike as "completely irresponsible" and said they looked to Johnson to come up with a solution.
Terry Morgan, chief executive of Tube Lines, said: "Following constructive discussions with the RMT today we have been able to agree in principle a two-year deal that will satisfy all parties."
In last-ditch talks that began on the morning of August 19th, the company raised its offer on a two-year deal to 4.99 per cent this year (backdated to April 1st), and RPI (February 09 figure, but currently 5 per cent) plus 0.85 per cent from April 2009.
The offer includes a minimum £1,000 salary increase for lower paid grades and apprentices, while points technicians will receive an additional increase of £3,000 in their basic salaries in addition to the 4.99 per cent in year one of the deal.
The company also offered to increase travel subsidy from home to place of work from 80 to 90 per cent from April 2009, gave a commitment to pursue with Transport for London the provision of Oyster Cards, and agreed to separate discussions on a range of other issues.